(before anyone digs up my old thread and corrects me, because he only had high liver enzymes, understand that I know that, but one of the things I say to explain it to non horse people/horse people who have no idea what an enzyme is is that basically his liver was on its way to failing)
But I think we're looking at the end this time. It happened so fast... First time he got sick we had a couple weeks where we just couldn't figure it out yet he never looked this bad.
He was fine Thursday, trotting around and happy, Friday he was staggering with a 105.2 fever and no idea how long he'd had it that day before we caught it, but we got it down within the hour and he was still normal on Saturday, and then yesterday 103.5 again, got it down again and had the vet out today...
He just looks so bad. The vet took more blood to do some blood work but his owner and I did agree after the first vet stay - no more expensive treatment, it's not fair to him to keep him alive and miserable (which he is any time he gets a fever). I'm pretty sure it is his liver again, he's stretching to pee and dropping but not peeing, when he did it was only a little and pretty dark. Neither I nor the vet could get a temp on him today because the muscles around his rectum are so loose (which was not like that yesterday, another sign I think we're near the end).
He's inside with two fans on him, happily munching on hay and still drinking water... I know I can't afford to try to work any miracles here, and neither can his owner. He'd been doing so good, plenty of energy, gaining his weight back and then BOOM, in one day it all fell apart. Heart breaking, and he's a whole 8 flipping years old. Barely 8. I only got to ride him a few times after he turned 8, just lightly bareback around in the arena once the vet said I could start riding him lightly again.
I'm still trying to maintain some hope, he's not dehydrated and he's still comfortable looking, if very lethargic, but... I don't know how fair it is to put him through the DMSO over and over again in his life even if we COULD afford it. Not very fair at all. He's miserable.
He's going to call me with the results of the blood work in the morning but unless we are miraculously looking at some other disease or condition (not likely) its better to put him down after a short happy life than try to prolong this. Or that's what I keep telling myself anyway.
In my head little girls first horses live to be 30 years old and teach their children to ride, not die after one year of free leasing, halfway to being given full ownership of said horse. It's been the best year and almost a half of my life, having him there to get me through all the drama of my junior year of college, and I have him to thank for that, even though I'd prefer he pull through an
d be a pretty pasture pet for me to thank for the rest of his life.
Still eating, still drinking, but I have my doubts and a heavy heart.
It clearly sounds like your boy is having some problems, but his symptoms dont sound like what is generally exhibited: I hope you get some answers quickly...
From Thoroughbred Times:
Signs of liver damageThe first sign of acute toxic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) is dullnesslethargy and lack of appetite. Pulse, respiration, and temperature are usually normal, but the horse may have abdominal pain due to rapid swelling of the liver, and the problem may be mistaken for colic. Sometimes there are blood pigments in urine.
Jaundice (yellow color of the skin and mucous membranes such as gums and whites of the eyes) is a common sign of liver disease and results from an accumulation of bile pigment, especially from the breakdown products of old red blood cells. These products are not cleared from the body when the liver is not functioning properly or its bile ducts are obstructed, and the pigments tend to accumulate in the skin and other tissues. Jaundice can also be caused by other problems in which there is no liver involvement, so jaundice alone is not a sure sign of liver problems.
Toxic substances normally processed by the liver build up in the bloodstream and affect the nervous system. The horse may be dull (standing with head drooping and feet wide apart) or overly excited; he also may exhibit weakness or muscle tremors, staggering or dragging his feet. His mental condition rapidly deteriorates and he may behave strangely, such as not responding to signals, pressing his head against a wall or fence, or walking into obstacles. Convulsions followed by a coma may occur.
One of the most common effects of severe and acute liver damage is a sharp drop in blood sugar, accompanied by nervous signs and hyperexcitability. For instance, the horse may become violent or unmanageable, running wildly and crashing into fences. If damage is occurring more slowly, the low blood sugar is less dramatic; the horse shows milder symptoms such as drowsiness, inability to work, yawning, and lethargy.
When the liver loses its detoxifying ability, ammonia and other toxic byproducts of protein breakdown are not filtered out of the blood and have an adverse affect upon the brain.
Muscle wasting can be another sign of liver damage. Failure of the liver to process amino acids and protein results in tissue wasting and a drop in plasma protein. This is sometimes severe enough to cause edema (fluid seeping out of the blood vessels and into the tissues to create enlargement and swellings). Diarrhea or constipation may also occur with certain types of liver disease.
Photosensitization in horses (in which unpigmented areas of skin are affected by sunlight, with skin cells dying and patches of skin sloughing off due to photodynamic agents brought to the skin from the digestive tract via the bloodstream) is often a sign of liver damage.
Poor blood-clotting ability can be a result of severe liver disease due to deficiency in prothrombin formation.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
He went through some confirmed liver issues and a vet stay with a DMSO drip a couple months ago and the first sign for him the last time was a high fever... The symptoms that followed are the same too, the only difference was how fast he looked worse this weekend (although we managed to get the fever down this time).
He has had me so convinced he was going to die so far, and yet tonight I come out and he looks fairly alert, a lot less shaky on his legs, firmed up enough for me to take his temp which is, sure enough, normal... Maybe there's more hope than I thought, but we're not really out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. He was very slowly munching his hay earlier but tonight he polished it off.
Liver enzymes high again (GGT not as high as the first time but all the other levels are 2-3x as high as they should be) plus infection... I texted his owner to find out what she wants to do. Well, not want... Both of us want unlimited funds to treat this horse and a miracle cure so it'll never happen again. But since that isn't an option...
I leave for college in ten days and if we're going to have to put him down anyway I want to be there.
Do you know what is causing it? Any chance of alsike clover poisoning? I have a friend with 2 yearlings right now suffering liver damage/failure due to that. Hoping they pull through with change of diet...
Good luck, I hope it can be resolved and sounds like you are doing your best in the meantime.
No... It all started when he was up in the panhandle, on a dry lot, eating the same hay as everyone else. He could have gotten into some sort of weed here I suppose, but the other horses have lived on the property for years. He's never handled the heat well and I think being already weakened plus a few 105+ days just was too much for him.
We're putting him down tomorrow.
Last edited by AnEnglishRider; Aug. 14, 2012 at 05:02 PM.
I've got less than 24 hours to decide if I want to watch or not. My friend who put hers down a year ago tells me she wishes she hadn't.
I am a weirdo and I have to see it to really help me grieve my loss. Maybe if you don't want to watch him drop you can at least be there with him afterwards. I like knowing they are gone and that I really am never going to see them again. I know thats hard for some people, but I have been present for all my animals passing or at least seen the bodies afterwards.
Mega Hugs to you; not an easy situation. I dont know what advice to give you on attendance; I have been there for two dogs and two cats; but no idea what I will do for my 22 yr old gelding when the time comes...that scares me a bit.
So sorry also that you are dealing with this in such a young guy. Hang in there, and know that you have lots of support from this board.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
((((((((HHHUUUGGGSSS)))))))) you know yourself better than we or even your other friend do, whether your reaction will help him more by being there when they drop him or not. Trust your gut. Neither option is wrong.