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Ideas? Horse NQR - Enlarged Spleen, Fast Respirations - Slow Heart Rate?

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  • Ideas? Horse NQR - Enlarged Spleen, Fast Respirations - Slow Heart Rate?

    Posting for a friend who is very worried about her horse. Horse is a mare, appaloosa cross, very fit and well muscled, about 12 years old, excellent work ethic, loads of personality and very bright and interested in everything. This past Saturday evening, horse was just nqr, slightly dull. She ate her dinner and her hay, she pooped, but she was just not her usual self. My friend got up and checked on the horse several times in the night and on Sunday morning decided to go ahead with plans for a trail ride, hoping that the trailer ride and the outing on the trail would help to perk up the horse.

    Horse was still blah, not caring that trailer companion was allowed to graze on the lovely grass, not caring that other horse passed her on the trail, not caring that other horse got way ahead of her while out on the trail. All of these things would have ordinarily sparked an opinion from this mare.

    Friend cut the trail ride short and took horse to the veterinarian on Sunday afternoon. Horse did poop on the trailer and twice on the trail and poop was moist and well formed. The vet found nothing but an enlarged spleen. Horse's heart rate was 32 which is about 10 below what is normal for this horse. Respirations were 36, which is three times faster than what is normal for this horse. The vet pulled blood for a complete panel and advised friend to take horse to regular vet on Monday morning.

    Horse was still blah on Monday morning, yet did eat her breakfast all gone (although did NOT holler & yell and carry on "hurry up" when she heard my friend coming out the back door ... this has been her usual behavior for almost 4 years). Regular vet did not palpate mare, so do not know if spleen was still enlarged. Heart rate was still slow and respirations were still fast. Mare was still dull. Vet gave friend a panacure power pack which friend has been administering. Regular vet also pulled blood for a complete panel.

    Both blood panels came back 100% fine ... no problems, nothing out of the normal range or even on the low or high side of normal. Exactly in the middle and just fine.

    We are now 3 days from first onset of blah/dull behavior and mare is still nqr.

    Does anyone have any ideas?

    Mare is on fescue hay and fescue pasture -- she is not bred and will not be bred. Friend took hay to the veterinarian and hay was pronounced good. This is same hay that mare has had forever and ever and all other horses at friend's barn are eating the same thing.

    Friend wondered about having an abdominal ultrasound done at a larger vet clinic, but the clinic said the ultrasound would not give a good enough picture of the spleen to justify the expense of the test. Friend is willing to do whatever it takes - this is her once in a lifetime horse after owning horses since she was a child.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions.

    SCM1959
    Last edited by SCM1959; Jun. 14, 2011, 07:23 PM. Reason: Add blood test results.

  • #2
    32 isn't really that low. Normal is 32-48, especially if it is a fit horse.

    But if the ultrasound image isn't that great, I would take him to a clinic that is able to provide better diagnostics.

    Sorry - can't really help beyond that.
    Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Friend does endurance with this horse, so takes heart rate & respirations on a very frequent basis. This horse has virtually never had a heart rate out of the forties.

      The larger clinic has every diagnostic tool known ... and said that there really is not a good way to look at a spleen.

      Not very encouraging ....

      SCM1959

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      • #4
        Have you tested her for Lyme? It can cause an enlarged spleen along with a lot of other weird symptoms. Any low grade fevers? Is the white blood cell count just a little lower than normal, although still within normal range? But other other diseases and and causes can cause an enlarged spleen also.

        I don't know where you are, but a vet school clinic should be able to do an accurate, effective ultrasound.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd think it's more odd that a fit horse always has a resting heart rate in the 40s! Even my fat, idle Shetland's resting pulse is 36. The fit ones are usually 28-32. Of course it's not that far outside the normal range. More important that the rhythm is normal (is it?); not many illnesses cause a slower-than-normal rate unless the rhythm is abnormal as a result of the illness. Only one I can even think of in humans is Legionnaire's disease.
          Click here before you buy.

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          • #6
            Has the horse been on any antibiotics? I know a horse that went through exactly what you are describing after reacting to an odd mix of medications given by an overly experimental veterinarian. Horse is now fine.

            My thoughts are that a biopse of the spleen would be the next course of action wouldn't it?
            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by CHT View Post
              Has the horse been on any antibiotics? I know a horse that went through exactly what you are describing after reacting to an odd mix of medications given by an overly experimental veterinarian. Horse is now fine.

              My thoughts are that a biopse of the spleen would be the next course of action wouldn't it?
              I would think there is a large risk of bleeding with a splenic biopsy.
              Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.

              Comment


              • #8
                My thoughts are that a biopse of the spleen would be the next course of action wouldn't it?
                Do vets really do that?! Holy crow, talk about dangerous. Big, sloppy bag of blood, the spleen, with no way to stick your finger on the hole if you pierce one of the giant blood-filled sinuses that honeycomb the thing . . . crikey. Glad I stuck with people.
                Click here before you buy.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                  Do vets really do that?! Holy crow, talk about dangerous. Big, sloppy bag of blood, the spleen, with no way to stick your finger on the hole if you pierce one of the giant blood-filled sinuses that honeycomb the thing . . . crikey. Glad I stuck with people.
                  No Delta - I'm pretty sure a vet won't do splenic biopsy. It always sucks when you are doing a belly tap and the spleen is in the way. Damn thing bleeds like crazy even when you nick it!
                  Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.

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                  • #10
                    Biopsies that are not on purpose are the WORST kind . . .
                    Click here before you buy.

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                    • #11
                      Of ultrasound and spleens

                      Just to clarify, it is very easy to visualize a large portion of the equine spleen with abdominal ultrasonography. Any well-equipped referral clinic with a good-quality machine can do a thorough exam for you - not just of the spleen, but the entire abdomen and chest, while they're at it.

                      And yes, splenic aspirates/biopsies are occasionally performed, such as when abnormal masses are identified within the organ.

                      Bigger picture, if your friend is still worried about her horse, particularly after the 7 - 10 days over which a viral infection usually runs its course, I would recommend referral to a clinic that has a board-certified specialist in internal medicine on staff.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thank you to everyone who has replied. My friend's horse is still nqr. She is eating, she is pooping, but she is still dull. No hurry up whinnies in the morning; no trotting to the gate to see why it is taking so long to bring breakfast.

                        She is taking her mare back to the veterinarian this afternoon to have more blood drawn. The vet wants to check thyroid function and my friend is also going to ask for a lyme test.

                        I will send her the information about checking the spleen. I have no idea why this very well-known clinic would say there is no way to get a good picture of a spleen. We are in upstate SC and we are fairly close to the University of Georgia Veterinary Hospital, so perhaps that is where she should go instead of the private clinic in North Carolina, should she need to go beyond her local veterinarian.

                        We are also both thinking, what would it hurt to do an abdominal ultrasound? Several local horse owners have reminded us of horses being nqr for a lengthy off-and-on period of time, only to eventually colic severely ... and all of these horses wound up having something that would have shown on an ultrasound .... a huge sand deposit, a giant entrolith (sp?), etc.

                        SCM1959

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          UPDATE! Mare acting really good this morning!

                          Fingers crossed, and being cautiously optimistic, my friend reports that this morning she could hear the yelling and complaining even before she opened the back door to go out to feed. Got out on the back porch to see her mare, very animated, trotting to the fenceline with tail and head held high, whinnying and carrying on "Where is breakfast???"

                          This is normal behavior for this mare, and my friend has not seen this since last Saturday.

                          Mare bounced around excitedly as my friend went about morning chores and then mare ate her breakfast very eagerly.

                          We are hoping that whatever it was, mare is about over it. This is a marked change in her demeanor, and is like she always has been for four years, instead of the dull, listless horse of the past several days.

                          In the meantime, blood was taken yesterday to check thyroid function and for lyme disease, so it will still be interesting to see how the blood panel looks.

                          Thank you to everyone for the suggestions.

                          SCM1959

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The horse in my barn that had a previously swollen spleen seems to have survived her spleen being biopsied so I had no idea it was such a dangerous operation (it was done before she came here).
                            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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