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Help! Mystery illness!!

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  • Help! Mystery illness!!

    Hey All,

    I've got a just turned 5 yo WB gelding who has some kind of mystery illness. Vet has been out 4 times in 8 days, and horse doesn't seem to be responding to any treatment. Vet will be back out tomorrow...

    -Off all feed (hay, grain etc) Appears to want to eat - he puts his nose in his bucket, pushes his hay around.
    -doesn't want to move under saddle, bareback, lunge line or loose in arena.
    -kicks at leg if you ask him to move
    -has become very anxious and has strange behavioral changes (ie just started nipping, has stopped nickering for me)
    -sad, wrinkly eyes
    -very very minor swelling in hind legs.
    -onset of symptoms was out of the blue, horse was normal/happy/healthy one day then off the next.

    -all vitals are normal (temp/pulse etc)
    - appears bright/healthy
    -pooping/peeing normally
    -not dehydrated
    -clean blood work
    -no problems with swallowing, teeth, mouth, throat
    -no change with omaprozole/gastroguard
    -no change with broad spectrum antibiotics (both oral and iv)
    -no change with banimine
    -he will eat limited amounts of fresh grass, but gets very stressed when doing this.
    -horse has had no major stresses or feed changes as of late.
    -horse has always been a very good eater, and is not picky.

    I've got him scheduled for a stomach scope, and the vet took more blood today...

    Initially we thought he just had ulcers, then ulcers and perhaps a low grade infection, but he doesnt seem to be improving, in fact his appetite has gotten steadily worse and he isnt feeling any better at all. Horse has no prior history of any illness, and is usually a pretty happy guy who loves attention, going for rides and is pretty easy going. He has never had any behavioral issues of any kind either.

    Whats going on ?!?! and more importantly how do I fix it? . Any vets or anyone have a similar experience?

  • #2
    Do you have tick borne diseases in your parts?
    Sounds like it could be Anaplasma phagocytophilium (ehrlichiosis).

    Did the broad-spectrum antibiotics include anything from the tetracycline family?
    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


    • Original Poster

      A tick born disease is a possibility, but I think it would be unlikely because ticks arent very common here in Langley, BC, Canada. I will talk to my vet about it tomorrow, just in case! Any other ideas???


      • #4

        Your post did not mention his dental situation, which I thought of when you said he shows interest in food, but eating seems painful.

        You could also try an animal psychic. They, like all folks, have a great variety of skill, and some make claims exceeding their skills, but as horse people we are familiar with this. If a psychic can pin point to area of pain--and it seems clear your fellow has pain--you can figure out how to heal it.

        You might see if he is willing to such down a variety of food sources in very small quantities, just to get him some calories: some folks sweat by apple sauce, my horses love molassis (which is high is iron).

        Please post when you find out the trouble


        • #5
          1. Tick borne illness
          2. Teeth
          3. Unprovoked ulcers
          4. Potomac Horse Fever
          5. A bad mood?
          Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of the Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


          • #6
            Have a good chiro check his poll and jaw. Perhaps the jaw is out of alignment, so it hurts to chew?
            <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


            • #7
              This is out of left field but having my friend's horse die at 6 yrs old a few months ago, but have you checked his liver enzymes to make sure they are normal. My friends horse was always suspected of having ulcers, so was kept on ulcer meds most of the time. After awhile her owner changed her to just Uguard instead of omeprozale, so when she fist started getting picky at her food we all thought uclers. We put her back on ulcer meds for a week but no improvement. They ran blood work and all seemed to come back normal. Well one day she got a toxic line above her teeth and she was sent to the hospital. It was her liver. The vet's in house machine didn't check for this one liver enzyme that would have indicated the problem. The mare was put down that week. Most of her liver had fibrosis. Turns out years ago, probably about 2, before my friend even owned her she ate something toxic and it had slowly been killing her.

              So what everyone thought was a simple case of ulcers was not at all. She used to kick out at her leg undersaddle and be reluctent to go foward, but now that all makes sense!

              Anyways its way out there, but since the sudden death of my friends horse I try to get the word out.
              I love cats, I love every single cat....
              So anyway I am a cat lover
              And I love to run.


              • #8
                I would check teeth, not just for the need of floating, but also for foreign objects such as a stick or other foreign matter caught in his gum or throat. Ultrasound mouth/throat/neck? I don't know.
                Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                • #9
                  True- a sharp point on a tooth could cause an infection/abcess that might account for his issues.
                  Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of the Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                  • #10
                    Actually, I was thinking liver problem or lipoma in the gut, too. They can mimic ulcers, but the swelling is what made me think of the these two possibilities.....
                    "IT'S NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES." SIR EDMUND HILLARYMember of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique


                    • #11
                      I'm sorry that you're going through this. One of my horses had a mystery illness last year and it was very frustrating. I know it takes awhile for all of the blood tests to come back. It sounds like you're doing everything you can. I doubt that it's tick borne if he didn't show any improvement after IV antibiotics, especially if it was oxytetracycline.
                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                      • Original Poster

                        I have had his teeth/mouth/jaw/throat/swollowing checked out, everything is 100%. I spoke to my vet about potomac fever, epsm, and any tick related disease, all are not compatible with all the work that we have had done. I will speak to him about the liver ailments and lipoma in the gut. He did manage to eat a little today, albeit rather slowly, and not too much...but its some sort of improvement in any case. He does seem to yo-you quite a bit. He doesnt eat one day then picks a bit at his feed the next. Vet is out daily to check on him and to administer IV antibiotics, and he is still on GG... I sure wish they could talk!!!!!


                        • #13
                          Does he have access to ANY toxic plants.? (Hemlock, star thistle, oleander etc) ??
                          I also thought of maybe a back or neck injury?? Just tossing some things out . .
                          Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
                          Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.


                          • #14
                            I'm so sorry for what you and your horse are going through. If all else fails, I do know the name of a good animal communicator who was right on target with my dog's health issues. Feel free to PM me... I'm sending good thoughts for a resolution to this mystery, with happy and healthy days ahead!


                            • Original Poster

                              Well...still not change, so I will be getting the internal specialist out. I wish we knew what was wrong!


                              • #16
                                Try switching him to an all mush diet for 48 hours. Absolutely no hay or grain...just hay cubes or complete pellets soaked into very soft wet mush.

                                If symptoms lessen a lot or disappear...dollars to donuts it's ulcers. But not stomach ulcers...colitis in the colon. The symptoms sound like early onset of colitis and considering the location of those it will present like stomach ulceers but the stomach will look healthy. Because it is healthy...the ulcers may be way back in the intestines and GastroGuard doesn't work on those.
                                A soft mushy only diet in smalll meals many times daily and a couple weeks rest to keep them quiet before riding again makes an enormous change for the better...it allows the ulcers to heal themselves. The diet has to continue for 3 months though. Then other foods very slowly added back into the diet.

                                Have to say it does sound like possible colitis. A pain in the arse to diagnose and time consuming to heal/treat but cheap and easy to fix.
                                You jump in the saddle,
                                Hold onto the bridle!
                                Jump in the line!


                                • #17
                                  Parasites. What's his worming schedule ?
                                  ... _. ._ .._. .._


                                  • #18
                                    Could he have an enterolith that keeps moving around and partially obstructing his gut, making him feel crappy at times but not consistently?
                                    Just a thought.

                                    Or right dorsal colitis?


                                    • #19
                                      did a groom leave the barn? My horse was very attached to the groom and went through depression when that groom left. Lost weight the whole nine yards see if any people or horses have changed recently or even his turn out buddy maybe


                                      • Original Poster

                                        I will talk to the vet about colitis/entrolith. Couldn't be parasites, we tested for that and he is wormed every other month. I'm his rider/groom and I do most of the work with him so it would be unlikely that it is any emotional change in that regard. His anxiety level is very high right now, yesterday he was so stressed that he wouldn't even eat grass