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Ready to give up, Lymphangitis again.

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  • Ready to give up, Lymphangitis again.

    I just don't know what to do at this point. My 21 yr old TB has a big leg again. He has had Lymphangitis every July/August since I've had him. The first two times were managed well with antibiotics, bute, and wrapping. The third was a little harder to get under control but we did just fine. The fourth needed several kinds of antibiotics and flared up again a month later. But I thought we got it under control again.
    Now a few months later his leg is big again. So far now lameness, and I've been keeping a wrap on him constantly. I don't want to call the vet unless I absolutely have to. I know that sounds horrible but his vet bills have added up and my emergency funds aren't unlimited. On one hand I think, call the vet now before lameness sets in, on the other I think, maybe I can get it under control with just wrapping and bute, because I know his lymph system is damaged and his leg "might" just be filled with fluid because he hasn't been moving around as much due to the crappy weather.

    I don't know what to do with this horse, I love him to death but between worrying about his heart murmur, lymphangitis, colic (had a mild colic several months ago), I am ready to scream. He is mostly retired, I feel like I can't spend thousands on him each year in emergency vet costs.

    But this morning when I let him out he was galloping, bucking, rolling, happy as can be. Every time I think about putting him down I know I can't because I would never forgive myself if I put him down before his "time". Plus when he is not dealing with lymphangitis he is an awesome single trail horse, smart, responsive, not spooky. I just can't figure out what to do.
    come what may

    Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

  • #2
    I understand exactly what you are going through. We had pretty much the same thing going on with a horse of ours--gone several years now--but just the lymphangitis. Bully had 12 bouts of lymphangitis over a period of 5 years, two of which were ulcerative lymphangitis. We were comfortable doing all the shots (IV too) and the flushing of the wounds and all ourselves, so we would just call te vet and tell him we needed the meds again. Bully was the herd leader of a 15 horse herd up until the very end and was a VERY playful horse. He was an excellent patient and had a very high level for pain tolerance. He "told" us he was ready on the last one. It was just "regular" lymphangitis, but even with meds, it lingered on for 6 weeks, and he was just done. Bully was only 10 when we put him down.

    So I can't tell you what to do for your guy, but can tell you go with your gut. If you are OK with doing all the shots yourself, and have a good relationship with your vet, call them and tell them it's back, but you can't afford another emergency call. Ask them if they can just give you the medications for him. Because, he needs the medicine. Lymphangitis doesn't go away without it and the sooner you start him on it, the better he will be.

    Good luck with your decision. It's a tough one. I still cry about Bully sometimes when I talk about it.



    • #3
      so sorry to hear of your problems. i understand what you mean about limited funds. have had the same thing going on here.

      i'm guessing you have tried hosing? i had a horse with the same condition. i had whirlpool boots but i didnt use them - just used a big muck tub and ran the pump into the tub so that it created a big whirlpool with lots of circulation. i added ebsen salts and pool flush - the kind of stuff you put into swimming pools. the chlorine in the pool flush had an amazing antibacterial effect. i statred this as i have always noticed if i had a cut or something and then went swimming, the wound was always better. it really helped.

      good luck and know you have lots of company in this type of delimma.


      • Original Poster

        There is no way he would stand for the type of set up you're describing Bastile, although it sounds like a great idea. That's the other problem, he isn't exactly a good patient.
        The swelling however is down from last night. Not all the way, but improved. I am hesitant to start antibiotics without any lameness, I will be watching him closely however and if his leg starts to get bigger I will call the vet. I'm comfortable with IM shots but have never done IV. I'm sure with proper instruction I could, but IV is a whole other ball game and much more dangerous. I do have some left over meds I can start him on, so at least I won't have to wait a day or two to be able to get meds from the vet.
        Overall I would consider his lymphangitis "mild". He has never oozed serum, nor has his leg ever opened up, which I have heard can happen. The swelling has never gone above the hock joint either, which is a positive sign.
        come what may

        Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


        • #5
          Hi, I am in a similar situation with a 20 year old gelding I found emaciated and I couldn't for the life of me and the barn owner/vet put significant weight/muscle back on. This has gone on for almost a year. A couple of months ago I contact Gabriele Sutton of KAM Animal Services. She is an out of the box thinker and while the initial treatment was a little pricey, its working and now he's on a much more afforable maintenance until he gets to his optimal weight. I don't know if she can help you but it never hurts to ask - www.kamanimalservices.com.
          Originally posted by Calamber
          So much stupidity, so little time.
          Confessions of a Dressageaholic - www.dressageaholic.com


          • #6
            My heart horse had a swollen lymphangitis leg for 10 years. It didn't quite bend as well as the others due to the swelling, but other than that she was perfectly sound. It definitely swelled more if she was stuck in the corrals due to a storm. I did a lot with her, even jumped, with her big fat leg. So, maybe talk to your vet about doing nothing. If there isn't an active infection having the big leg isn't really a problem.

            I feel your pain on the oldie with lots of issues. I ultimately put her down because internal pigeon fever was just too much to deal with on top of the lymphangitis, skin crud, allergies, and navicular.
            Pam's Pony Place

            Pam's Pony Ponderings


            • Original Poster

              Just a mini update: so far keeping his wrap on is doing the trick. Swelling is slowly going down.

              Does anyone have suggestions for wrapping 24/7? How to go about it?
              come what may

              Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


              • #8
                For horses living in wraps 24/7 as you describe there's always a risk of pressure sores. These wraps MUST be changed twice daily.

                So IME what's done is several layers of BB Satin Stars laid together, say 5, then folded in half. On the open edge, secure a 6th layer to hold them together, if that makes sense. Roll them from the short edge up and apply like a standing bandage.

                I find this technique to be much more forgiving than any commercially available quilt because it's a wee bit more air permeable. Most standing bandages, the hearty ones anyway, are filled with foam. And the batting cotton filled ones can slip and cord them too easily. Forget 'No Bows'.

                If it's at all possible, allow them a few hours in between re-wrapping when they're moving so some air can get to it. And of course, rubber mitt curry gently to help with circulation.

                I wouldnt' recommend keeping a horse in standing wraps if he's being t/od tho..

                Best of luck with your boy.
                On a side note: If your vet is familiar with this case, are you certain you can't call and discuss symptoms and possible treatment without them coming out and incurring a bill? Surely if your'e a good customer who's a 'frequent flyer' they may just advise you to use something already in your medicine cabinet, but call if symptoms worsen.


                • #9
                  Yes! Had a horse (best friends horse who I frequently cared for) that required 24/7 wraps due to lymphangitis.

                  You need 2 18" no-bows, we bought the cheaper knockoffs since we went through so much laundry. 3 standing wraps.

                  Cotton 1, start low...right down to the coronet band. Put a stable wrap on snugly over top. Make sure you wrap well over the bottom of the cotton so no mud/dirt gets underneath. Next, with cotton 2, line it up with the top of cotton 1 and cover the hock. Take next stable wrap #2 and wrap over the hock, you dont need to cover the top, actually best if you dont as it will help prevent it from slipping. Now, the part that holds it all together is wrap 3. This goes from the point of hock down to the ankle. Ensure they are all snug.

                  You will need several sets, as you want to make sure the wrap is changed at least every 48 hours with clean dry cottons.

                  This wrap job lasted 24-48 hours in mud,snow etc. 24 hour turnout. It kept this horse alive for TEN years. He was able to run, buck, play etc. no problem. The first initial steps he obviously couldnt track up, but once he worked the wrap in he was full force. He lived in the wrap until the day he died, as his leg would swell significantly if he wasnt wrapped. It takes time and dedication but was worth every minute for him. He went from having painful flareups on a nearly weekly basis to having 1 in his last 5 years of life.


                  • #10
                    I just put down my 24 year old gelding in December due to chronic lymphangitis. I battled it for about 3 years with him and he would have flair ups ever so often but always seemed to get around ok. He was much better turned out moving on it but this past fall his other hind let started to swell up and he was starting to have difficulty getting around. It was hard for me to let him go but I decided that I didn't want to go through this winter (especially if the weather was bad) so I put him down. You will know when the right time to let him go will be.


                    • #11
                      My horse Cool would get a bout every year around June-July, of increasing severity. I kept him wrapped. The vet would treat him with IV DMSO, antibiotics and pretty substantial doses of feed-though MSM during the bouts. During the last one I had authorized some antibiotic that was supposed to be really good, but pricey, but he took a turn for the worse and I authorized euthanasia.
                      The Evil Chem Prof


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks for the stories and suggestions everyone.

                        Currently I've been doing a standing wrap 24/7 and changing it 2-3 times a day. I've also been handwalking and taking the wrap off while I do that. Oh, and curry combing his leg every time I change wraps. So far so good, his leg is down almost all the way. I can see a bit of tendon definition which is as good as it ever gets for him. I bought a pair of BOT no bows, but it says to introduce gradually so I haven't left them on for very long yet.

                        Hopefully I've managed to avoid the whole usual lymphangitis ordeal.
                        come what may

                        Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


                        • #13
                          Maybe ask your vet about Surpass for pain/swelling. You can put it directly on the leg.

                          My mare has had a few bouts of lymphangitis, each time there was serum, sloughing hair/skin and swelling up to her udder. The Surpass seemed to help a lot. If you've gotten the swelling down without antibiotics, it sounds like it isn't an active infection and maybe just from lack of movement.


                          • Original Poster

                            He currently doesn't have any pain, but if/when it flares up with lameness I will definitely ask.

                            For now just keeping a wrap on his helping dramatically.
                            come what may

                            Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


                            • #15
                              My old junior jumper ended up with lymphangitis for several months before I put him down. Just wanted to warn you to keep a close eye on the temp of the leg. L should result in warmth -- if it gets cold, it could be a big problem (not just normal temp, but cold).

                              After month 3 of on-and-off lymphagitis that responded to antibiotics, my horse's hoof went cold one day -- blood vessel blocked and we put him down before the leg went gangrenous. On the bright side, it wasn't the lymphangitis that got him though that was super-expensive to treat repeatedly. I feel your pain there.

                              I'd consider starting your horse on antibiotics now, my horse always did better if we started him on them at the first sign. I could get the swelling down with wraps, but each episode continued until antibiotics were involved. Hope yours resolves soon.


                              • #16
                                Ever try acupuncture? My guy benefitted from it greatly. I put him down two years ago after dealing with lymphangitis for ~7 years. The leg became infected and it went systemic. Within 72 hours he went from just fine to a complete wreck.

                                So long as he's in good spirits and doing his usaul horsie things keep him around. As soon as the lymphangitis starts interferring with his personality and daily routines you know the disease is starting to get the best of him. Sounds like you still have more time.


                                • #17
                                  At MID-Atlantic Equine Rehab Center we have had good results using Game Ready along with a cols laser protocol . Please feel free to pm I'd be happy to talk with you. All is not lost.