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Your Experiences with Life after Right Dorsal Colitis

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  • Your Experiences with Life after Right Dorsal Colitis

    My seven year old mare was diagnosed with RDC around March 20th, with concurrent grade 2 gastric ulcers. She was on no grain prior to this incident, so we believe the RDC was caused by bute and banamine. About six weeks prior, she developed a fever of unknown origins and we treated with a combination of bute and banamine for about 3-5 days. Three weeks after that, she had a colicy episode, again treated with banamine and bute for 1-2 days, and then three weeks later, another colicy episode, treated with bute/banamine for one day. When she failed to respond to the last treatment and appeared in constant discomfort, we took her to the University for treatment (She was dosed according to vet directions).

    Ultrasound showed colon wall thickness of 12 mm. Over the course of 10 days, her protein levels continued to drop and we had to give her a plasma transfusion. She was on a week’s worth of antibiotics to clear up the infection diagnosed through the ab-tap, and then 3 weeks on sucralfate, 4 weeks on misoprostol, and we are on our sixth week of saccaromyces, safflower oil, and gastrogard (weaning off that).

    Her blood work at 5-weeks post treatment showed a protein level still shy of normal (low 5), but the ultrasound showed her colon was back to normal thickness and the repeat scope showed only minor pinpricks of ulcers remaining.

    As for reducing environmental stress, she has a stall with attached paddock and is free to come/go unless it’s sub-zero temps. She was worked regularly 4 times a week at a intro level, and fed 3-4 times a day. We are suspecting the gastric ulcers were caused by the RDC stress as she has a really, really lovely environment and never appeared stressed or exhibited signs of being an “internalizer”.

    I was wondering if anyone could share their experiences coming back from similar treatment. Neither my BO (30+ year horsewoman) nor I have ever dealt with ulcers before, much less RDC, so everything is new, and I find myself in a constant state of anxiety monitoring stools, appetite, comfort level, is she stressed, is that normal for her pre/post incident, etc. I feel like I can see the light, but I also have no idea what the “next stage” might look like and when/how you can tell it’s “over”.

    How long did it take for you to see protein counts return to normal? How long did you continue the high Sr. Feed/low hay diet? Were there any setbacks that could have been avoided? Anything you would have done differently? I’m at the point where I can reintroduce light work; any advice about that? When did you feel you were out of the woods and back to normal?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Well, every situation is different, but here's my thread about my gelding who was hospitalized twice for right dorsal displacement and colitis:


    With my guy the working theory is that long term use of omeprazole led to hind gut ulcers and RDC. He did horribly on the hind gut ulcer diet, and only lasted a week? (It's detailed in the other post, can't remember the exact amount of time offhand). So my point in posting is not to give you a whole rehash of the colic situation, since it sounds like yours could be very different than mine, and many horses do very well on both omeprazole and the HGU diet (no hay/all pellets). But I can address the riding side of things.

    My guy had been in serious work all summer. We were in the midst of show season (July) with the first colic, and he only got days off the days he was actually in the hospital. I took it easy with him, of course, when he came home, but felt that keeping him working would be much better for his brain than suddenly giving him time off. He did great for a few months (was stellar in the 1.40m jumpers at the next few shows) and then we had the next colic. Same story there. He only got the days off that he was in the clinic and we went back to long and low, loose hacks for the first week home. So my approach with exercise was to keep it pretty easy, but not to drastically change what we had been doing.

    But the other part I can't answer. I did night checks for 2 months after his last episode (last September), even though I stopped night feedings after that first week (he gets free choice hay and lives in a big grass pasture), and sometimes I still run down at midnight just to make sure. So I still haven't stopped worrying about my guy. I worry every time he takes a funny looking poop or turns his nose up at his grain. I put him back on Gastro Guard for the first show of the year (because it made such a positive difference for him the year before, and he did great on it up to the colics too) and stressed out for the whole show, then stressed for his first 3 days home when he still wasn't terribly interested in food. On day 4 he turned back into his normal un-ulcery self...a hungry, lick-the-bowl clean horse who nickers for his grain and I finally started breathing again. But I still freak out every time he's distracted at dinner time, and I always worry worry worry when he lays down or bites at a fly or does anything else that could possibly mimic his reaction when he colicked. So I guess my answer would be that I stopped *really* worrying after 2 months had passed (since that was the time between colics), and then probably took a couple more months to chill out more about it. Now I think of myself as an "overprotective mom" type worry than a "disaster-is-around-the-corner" worrier.

    Good luck to you!
    Flying F Sport Horses
    Horses in the NW


    • #3
      I know I sound to some like a clanging gong but in my 35 years of horses and in working in and around Lexington, KY I would get him on Equiotic. It is Equine Origin Bacteria that is the L.Reuteri which is the only bacteria that produces reuterin. Here is a video they have on the website on a horse that had salmonella colitis and another one from a vet that took care of a colitis case with it. UC Davis uses it someone on the site says. That speaks volumes!



      I spoke to a Micro-biologist from the Dana-Farber Cancer institute and they told me two things; 1. There is a HUGE difference in sources of bacteria. Even in the family there are variances. And #2 It makes a difference in some bacterias if the source is commensal with the species.