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At wit's end: older horse, rapid weight loss, chronic diarrhea

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  • #21
    Given the history, I'd leave him on the pasture, unless he's drinking copious amounts, he's only going to be more dehydrated on hay.

    I'd not deworm a horse that is patently unwell when there is no incidence of worms in this horse or in the herd.

    Metamucil ie Psyllium is pretty standard treatment for diarrhea in horses, check with your vet on dosage for this horse (lots of dosage suggestions on the internet) - I think it's important to keep the vet updated/involved with what you're doing.

    Hopefully this is just something odd that he ate & will resolve (cancer can present this way - feel bad even writing that, so quick jinx it's the former), but at his age I'd be disinclined to isolate him from his herd & comfort zone.

    I'd be very careful about introducing new hays/alfalfa into his diet - he likely will lack the appropriate gut bacteria to completely digest anything novel & in his current state he's not really in need of another metabolic challenge.
    I'd sooner go with IV fluids, try Succeed, Gastroguard etc.

    Talk to a holistic vet about natural remedies such as marshmallow root & slippery elm etc (I'm not recommending these without proper counsel), also acupuncture ...

    You might discuss with your vet about looking for blockage but I'd not do surgery.

    Jingles that this poor guy feels better soon!

    Comment


    • #22
      It really sounds like you need to stop the diarrhea ASAP. Did your vet recommend anything to stop it?
      My first thought was BIOSPONGE which was already suggested.

      I was told by my vets that projectile watery diarrhea in adult horses is usually an emergency situation. I'm surprised your vet has allowed this to continue for, did you say , 2 weeks? I hope you can figure it out soon. Best of luck to you for a recovery.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        Alto, thanks for your response. I really do feel that changing his diet, or anything else in his life right now, is not a good idea, but that stopping the diarrhea is priority #1, and then getting him back on his feet is #2. I am also worried about cancer -- he's a gray Appy -- but blood work showed normal-range white cell counts, so I'm hoping that means it's something else.

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          Ticker -- I agree that stopping the diarrhea is #1 priority at this time. I got Metamucil today and am ordering the BioSponge, so when it gets here, we can switch to that. Yeah, it's been about two weeks -- progressively getting worse (as in a bath twice a day bad).

          Comment


          • #25
            I have been fighting something similar, but not as bad with my 14-y.o. gelding:
            http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...-bit-more-data

            His issues, as determined by ultrasound, are in the small intestine. It has areas of thickening which are causing malabsorption. So enteritis. The vets advised a simple diet of alfalfa and now added timothy which is not the way to keep weight on this horse even with efficient absorption of nutrients. Not to mention the three-ring circus associated with keeping hay in front of a horse as much as possible in a boarding barn. No diarrhea. From what I've read, though, diarrhea is likelier to be caused by problems in the colon. The next level of diagnosis in our case is a flank biopsy. But, and I almost hesitate to write this, there has been very slow improvement, capped by more rapid improvement since the end of last week. He was almost his usual obnoxious self yesterday. Not sure why we've experienced a possible turnaround. Time? Finally maybe getting the food in front of him? The two acupuncture sessions?

            A friend's horse had chronic diarrhea a few years back. Vets never really found a cause. They called it colitis. This horse lost some weight, but not tons but he has a pretty efficient metabolism and was kind of fat to start. They finally treated him by tubing him with processed manure from another horse and it worked. That treatment has a name which is currently escaping me.
            The Evil Chem Prof

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            • Original Poster

              #26
              Peggy, I hope yours is resolved soon! Scrappy was starved as a baby -- when I bought him he was literally skin and bones, but bounced back and has always stayed fat on air, as far as I can tell. The only positive thing is that he is still very interested in eating and going out, and still has energy, despite everything. I am starting to wonder about colitis, too; I'll have to call the vet in the morning and see if he wants to continue with the plan to treat for ulcers or try something else instead.

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              • #27
                Isn't a side effect of Uniprim diarrhea?

                Comment


                • #28
                  I would test for/consider C. Difficile. Biosponge may help with that. The fecal transplant that Peggy mentioned is also a treatment for C. diff.

                  C. diff causes watery diarrhea. It can be caused or exacerbated by most antibiotics. It is very dangerous because it emits a toxin that damages the intestinal lining, making it difficult for the animal to absorb nutrition. It reproduces by spores and is resistant to most antibiotics. The Biosponge tries to take up the toxin, and the fecal transplant tries to establish more appropriate intestinal flora that will push out the C. diff (think of weeds in a lawn versus weeds in a vacant lot).
                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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                  • #29
                    Years ago I had to give kaopectate to an elderly school pony with a bad case of diarrhea as a side effect from another medication. Perhaps it would be worth asking your vet if something like that would be an option.
                    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                    -Edward Hoagland

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Peggy View Post
                      They finally treated him by tubing him with processed manure from another horse and it worked. That treatment has a name which is currently escaping me.
                      Transfaunation.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                        I would test for/consider C. Difficile. Biosponge may help with that. The fecal transplant that Peggy mentioned is also a treatment for C. diff.

                        C. diff causes watery diarrhea. It can be caused or exacerbated by most antibiotics. It is very dangerous because it emits a toxin that damages the intestinal lining, making it difficult for the animal to absorb nutrition. It reproduces by spores and is resistant to most antibiotics. The Biosponge tries to take up the toxin, and the fecal transplant tries to establish more appropriate intestinal flora that will push out the C. diff (think of weeds in a lawn versus weeds in a vacant lot).
                        Definitely the Biosponge; that's a superb product which works great! We used it for a horse who had liquid splatz following a bout of enteritis--which is what I'm wondering if your guy could have. The ones I've seen usually show colic symptoms and a low-grade fever, but not impossible for an unusual presentation.

                        Another idea could be an intolerance to something in the feed--some feed companies switch out ingredients when something gets cheaper or more expensive. Soy? Some funky GMO corn? Too much sugar? I'd be inclined to change up the brand of feed.

                        Hate to say it, but sometimes at his age they have internal growths, some of which can cause necrosis of the intestine or internal bleeding but the fecal should probably have picked that up. Only think left is an abcess . . . I'm brainstorming here . . . I'm very interested to hear what your vet thinks, so keep us posted!

                        Push him some ProBios, it's cheap enough and you can't hurt him with it.

                        Luck and Jingles!

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Lots of good suggestions. Sad for you and your horse.

                          A cancer deep inside a friend's horse made him lose weight and colic repeatedly - it was found on autopsy, but the vet said it was hard to diagnose because of how deep it was. They tried everything.
                          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            Originally posted by bM View Post
                            Isn't a side effect of Uniprim diarrhea?
                            That's interesting -- he already had diarrhea before starting on the Uniprim, but it definitely got worse after.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                              Lots of good suggestions. Sad for you and your horse.

                              A cancer deep inside a friend's horse made him lose weight and colic repeatedly - it was found on autopsy, but the vet said it was hard to diagnose because of how deep it was. They tried everything.
                              I had a friend who lost her 5-year old Hanoverian that way -- very sad, as he was one of the last foals of a stallion I knew and loved. I am hoping not cancer, but I will talk to my vet about screening for cells with the next round of blood work.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #35
                                Lady Eboshi, thanks for the comments. I am also leaning towards enteritis -- I'm going to call the vet back today and see if we can get him tested for that, or at least try a different treatment and see if that works any better. I wondered about the feed too, but he has been on Equine Senior for the last several years, and I have two other horses who eat it too. I know changes can affect one horse more than another, but we've been through four bags since he started developing symptoms, so I'm not sure it would be that. He's currently on probios, but they're not taking any effect so far.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #36
                                  Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                                  I would test for/consider C. Difficile. Biosponge may help with that. The fecal transplant that Peggy mentioned is also a treatment for C. diff.

                                  C. diff causes watery diarrhea. It can be caused or exacerbated by most antibiotics. It is very dangerous because it emits a toxin that damages the intestinal lining, making it difficult for the animal to absorb nutrition. It reproduces by spores and is resistant to most antibiotics. The Biosponge tries to take up the toxin, and the fecal transplant tries to establish more appropriate intestinal flora that will push out the C. diff (think of weeds in a lawn versus weeds in a vacant lot).
                                  I will definitely talk to the vet about this today, too. Scrappy had no temperature when we took the samples, but as you said, that doesn't mean that he couldn't be presenting differently. I ordered BioSponge yesterday, it's coming FedEx so I hope it will be here in a day or two.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #37
                                    Originally posted by Wayside View Post
                                    Years ago I had to give kaopectate to an elderly school pony with a bad case of diarrhea as a side effect from another medication. Perhaps it would be worth asking your vet if something like that would be an option.
                                    That might at least help slow down the diarrhea. He's on Metamucil right now (just since last night) and I'm not seeing any effect from that yet.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by Alex and Bodie's Mom View Post
                                      I will definitely talk to the vet about this today, too. Scrappy had no temperature when we took the samples, but as you said, that doesn't mean that he couldn't be presenting differently. I ordered BioSponge yesterday, it's coming FedEx so I hope it will be here in a day or two.
                                      C. diff does not necessarily present with elevated temperature. The typical antibiotic used against it is metronidazole.

                                      Good luck. I know first hand how scary it is to deal with rapid weight loss in an older horse. I hope he stabilizes soon.
                                      If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Smart Digest

                                        I went through this with my older gelding and switched him to Senior feed and added Smart Digest from Smartpak. Seemed to do the trick! His manure has been completely normal since and its only $10-$15 a month. I think the probiotics are what helped him. Also if you try it and it doesnt work you can up it to Smart Digest ULTRA that has even better ingredients.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by Alex and Bodie's Mom View Post
                                          That's interesting -- he already had diarrhea before starting on the Uniprim, but it definitely got worse after.
                                          Just checked to see what antibiotic my vet gave me for a cut on my mare and it was Uniprim, and he told me if she started having diarrhea then to stop feeding it ASAP.

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