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mystery illness - looking for ideas to bounce off!

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  • mystery illness - looking for ideas to bounce off!

    My boy has a mystery ailment. I'm posting here in hopes that enough ideas will be sent my way to help us figure this out. I know it's a bit long, but... please read? thanks.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    * 11 yr old warmblood gelding, history of being hyper and very athletic
    * also history of renal tubular acidosis, but that's unrelated to current situation as far as we can tell....
    * history of loosing weight in the summer months for the last two years
    * been eating a LOT of hay (grass and alfalfa) along with good quality grain (LMF) and supplements to gain that weight back for winter
    * fully vaccinated, wormed, etc

    Four months ago: We moved here (Utah) from California at the end of August. He was slightly off feed from there, underweight from his summer weight loss, then lost weight from the trip (12 hour straight trailer ride). New feed, he wasn't eating as much. I increase the high fat grain and added more supplements for digestion (probiotics, etc).

    About 2.5 months ago: he started being mellow instead of hyper. His 'pounding' pulse was first observed but wasn't worried about it.

    1.5 months ago: he started boycotting his grain entirely if it had any supplements in it at all. Also reduced hay intake to really low levels (eating 3 a day vs. the 8 a day back in California) since he wasn't eating more than that and so much was going to waste.

    Four weeks ago: rode him in a lesson -- and I didn't have my horse under me. a CROP was needed to keep him trotting. Ditto on a trail ride. Out of breath very rapidly, staggered at once point after some cantering on the hills. Puzzled but wasn't sure what to go to the vet with : "my horse is 1/3 the horse he should be??"

    He was getting thinner, but nothing horrid. He was always a bit lean, I just wanted to get him fattened up for the cold winter ahead.

    Three weeks ago: Took him to the vet, did blood work. Normal. 100% normal. Took blood to run a lyme titer (not found in Utah, but very very common in California)

    2.5 weeks ago: that weekend he was a lot more lethargic, edema along his mid-line, and eating drastically less. Nearly no grain. Only what he felt like eating. More blood-work - again, normal. Started him on Ex-Stem (sp?) as an immune system booster. Also a mega shot of vitamins that they give horses before they race.

    1.5 weeks ago I leave town with an OK if not great horse but Good people to watch him while I'm away. First full day I'm gone, he gets explosive diarrhea - as in covering the walls and getting arcs 3 feet away. Temp 103 F and dehydrated. I'm out of town, but the lovely lovely gals at the barn take him to the vet for me and he stays there from Sunday until his discharge on Thursday morning. Poops better, eating ok, fever down once they re-hydrated him. The blood work?? came back NORMAL. again.

    By this point the word "normal" as applied to my horse no long means what you think it means. We try to find humor in this. Humor is needed. Ally is, and always has been, a special needs 'child'.

    3 days ago: So, I get back into town and get my first good look at him on Sunday (Sat was too dark). He's listless but still perky. I pull him out to two HUGE surprises:
    1. his legs, belly and sheath are swollen beyond any expectations
    2. he is so thin it terrifies me. in 8 days he lost a LOT of weight. 200 lbs worth on top of the 250 lbs he was already down.

    and 3. fever of 102.1

    Light work (lunging, can't do a saddle with the belly edema and need lots of padding to do bareback - and hand walking) to get him moving seems to help some of the edema. Cold hosing helps too, except for his poor sheath which is cold and bounces around in a way that scares me. But moving IS good. Do it in intervals, since he still gets out of breath very fast and the pounding pulse is just bizarre.

    Got Banamine from vet for fever on Sunday

    1 day ago: 101.6 F low grade fever, not all gone but still there. Gave him the last of his Fast Track (probiotics), as well as a banamine dose.

    Vet showed up 3:30pm. Got to witness the extreme weight drop, the edema-gone-massively-scary, the very uncomfortable sheath, as well as the degree of the 'pounding' of his pulse -- again, nothing he'd seen before.

    Pulled a lot of blood -- we're testing for EVA at least. I want Rhino and WNV. They do another from Texas that can do WEE and EEE and such.

    "my" vet on this is new to us but doing a good job -- asking ME questions as well as letting me bounce ideas off of him too. The clinic he works at *IS* the clinic for this entire state. So while not quite UC Davis (where Ally was before...), there are several other vets that my Dr. has been bouncing ideas off of and seeing what choices.

    Today: 101.2 F and his sheath has SPLIT. Ow! on the underside and just the very top layer of skin but it's weepy and he's obviously unhappy. Gave him more diuretic and his morning bute. Worked him 20 minutes (walk trot intervals) before tossing him out to pasture.

    the vet DID mention he's seen a 'jock strap' for a stallion who had bad edema like this. Polo wrap X'd over the hips. I just might, the poor boy.


    What next:

    testing his blood to eliminate as much as we can

    he's on a diuretic to help the edema masses

    he's on 2g bute BID for three days. for the edema inflammation, as well as make it easier for him to move around

    a stomach tap once the edema is down enough that they can do such a thing. although his white blood cells have been normal in all the blood work, it is possible it's something in the abdominal cavity (abcess, etc) and hasn't gone systemic

    the ex-stem immune booster should still be taking effect, but will find out if using it again OR trying another product is useful, and at what point in his treatment

    Also looking into appetite stimulants. either as a side effect of another drug or a supplement. huh. wonder if you can feed pot to your hose? :P

    MY concern right now is his weight --his immune system can't recover as quickly, if at all, when the horse's body is worn down so far.

    Also getting in touch with an acupuncturist vet to see what she can help along. Ally hates needles but right now he might not mind them at all with as listless as he is. It'll be a fun try, that's for sure.


    On top of that, he's got his teeth floating tomorrow after his farrier appointment. In which hope my horse doesn't splatter wet shit all over my farrier. He just might not come back :P

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    THAT is what is known as it applies to the current situation. I've been posting in my horse journal over in livejournal (http://foalstory.livejournal.com) for a while on this along with some photos. I've had a few IM chats and emails and other stuff that's given me more ideas to explore. My doctor's are good but I feel they need more prodding on my part to really solve this. So, please share???

    I've gotten some of the best ideas and support from hearing from others about weird situations they've been a part of or seen.

    thankyou!

  • #2
    I would only offer that I would not work him at all - no lungeing, no riding, etc., until this is diagnosed and treated. Work is too much stress right now on a very stressed animal. I know you are hoping that moving around will help, but I would hand walk only, and if the only place to hand walk is a common area, I wouldn't do it. You need ot keep him away from other horses until this is diagnosed. You don't know if this is highly contagious.

    Have you tried bran mashes? I would do that with a good bit of canola oil in there, unless it makes his diarrhea worse. The oil would pack good calories in there, as would rice bran, or some of the Ultimate Finish 100 or 40. I would otherwise limit the traditional grain.

    for probiotics, try getting some Rebound 3 -- this is what my myotherapist swears by, and I buy it by the case. It has the acidopholous and bifudous in it (2 prominent probiotics).

    Comment


    • #3
      Have you considered Potomac Fever?

      The "explosove diarrhea" is a classic symptom.
      Janet

      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Alas, the edema is as bad as it is because of the 6 days of stall rest last week so right now, vet orders to get him moving as much as he can. I really shouldn't call it work -- but anything to keep it moving. Even after 10 minutes of walking with some trot I can massage (and do!) to loosen it up. Still, I've never quite dealt with Edema like THIS before! a leg or two, yes. stocked up in all four, no problems. but this is in all four legs, hoof to belly, plus 2-3 inches on the belly.

        I'll look into the Rebound 3 - thanks! he's done with the FastTrack that I got from the vets, but definitely need to get him on something else. He's BEEN on RationPlus for a while, but I'm nearly out.

        Still, a miracle drug should would be nice right now.....

        He won't *touch* a bran mash. He won't touch a horse cookie. J. tried offering him yummy grain, no go. Added molasses on top... he tried it and spat it out.

        It's a bit like his idea of what tastes 'good' is severely altered. But he's also just not hungry.

        As of right now, he won't touch his grain. It's been LMF PrimeTime (high fat) which he's had for a few years now. Also Country Acres which is more like 'candy' but something he used to like so he'd eat the other stuff too.

        picky little bastard, isn't he? *sigh* thank you though!!!

        Originally posted by LH View Post
        I would only offer that I would not work him at all - no lungeing, no riding, etc., until this is diagnosed and treated. Work is too much stress right now on a very stressed animal. I know you are hoping that moving around will help, but I would hand walk only, and if the only place to hand walk is a common area, I wouldn't do it. You need ot keep him away from other horses until this is diagnosed. You don't know if this is highly contagious.

        Have you tried bran mashes? I would do that with a good bit of canola oil in there, unless it makes his diarrhea worse. The oil would pack good calories in there, as would rice bran, or some of the Ultimate Finish 100 or 40. I would otherwise limit the traditional grain.

        for probiotics, try getting some Rebound 3 -- this is what my myotherapist swears by, and I buy it by the case. It has the acidopholous and bifudous in it (2 prominent probiotics).

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Janet View Post
          Have you considered Potomac Fever?

          The "explosove diarrhea" is a classic symptom.
          actually, yes. Except for the part where we are way WEST of the Mississippi. We don't even vaccinate for it out here. And he's never been any further East than this.

          *goes and goggles this for more info*

          Also, he's been 'sick' for much longer than the normal incubation -- and everyone else in the barn is 100% healthy.

          course, it HAS been over here it seems, so so much for that theory. Take THAT Dr. Reiser :P Equine Science for nothing. Any how.

          It DOES look a bit like that, except for the fact that our water (stagnant or snails) has been frozen for a month or so now. too cold!

          Then again, this is Ally. An insanely long incubation period seems possible. He does everything to defy the norm

          thanks! I'll definitely bounce this one off of the Dr.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think if it were my horse, I'd get him to the nearest large animal hospital and have a complete workup. The combination of symptoms plus the huge weight loss don't sound good at all to me. I hope you can get this figured out quickly.
            She wasn't running away with me, I just couldn't stop her!

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Buffyblue View Post
              I think if it were my horse, I'd get him to the nearest large animal hospital and have a complete workup. The combination of symptoms plus the huge weight loss don't sound good at all to me. I hope you can get this figured out quickly.
              hehe. this is the closest large animal hospital, alas! It's Utah. there's really not much here. http://www.svlac.com/ We've done a full work up -- everything is normal. The only things left now are to wait for the tests from Texas and Washington (state) to come back. But with the xmas holiday, they're taking extra long. But it'll eliminate EEE, WEE, EVA, and a whole other bunch I can't recall right now.

              Otherwise, Colorado State is the only other -- if all else fails, I'll consider it. However, the haul through the snow will be only a few hours shorter than taking him back to UC Davis (672 miles away) back in California. And the way he is right now, he can't *afford* to loose the 150+ lbs he'll lose on such a haul (what he lost last time).

              thanks though! Already done

              Comment


              • #8
                Quit dicking around with the grains, scrounge up as much/many feed items as you can get your hands on, and try offering everything. Mashes of any kind-soaked alfie cubes/pellets, beet pulp w/molasses, any combination you can create. Licorice might help too-black only. If he seems interested, a couple drops of anise might help.

                Offer different hays. Strip the stall completely and change bedding (could in theory be having an allergic reaction to something in the environment) Wash blankets too, if you use them. Wash brushes, etc.

                Get some Nutrient Buffer (www.vitaroyal.com) worth every penny, get some down him if you have to drench.

                He may also be ulcerative, soy our vet should check into that too, as possible cause of weight loss.

                And good heavens, 400 pounds on a 16 hand horse is a CS 1. If so, he should be in the clinic on IV!

                Comment


                • #9
                  First of all, I would take him off all grain products and anything that might irritate his system. Then I would put him on Biosponge (talk to your vet about this). That would just be my 911, as I would for any horse showing those sort of symptoms.

                  Now as to what it is.. I'm leaning towards something tick-borne. The edema is classic. Other than that, I am wondering if previous to this he may have had an encysted strongyle problem that is making this worse. Just throwing stuff out there.

                  Hope he feels better soon, poor guy.
                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                  ---
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Also, he's been 'sick' for much longer than the normal incubation -- and everyone else in the barn is 100% healthy.
                    IIRC, it is not at all uncommon for only one horse in the barn to get sick, though there are also cases where several are sick.

                    Given your location, it isn't the FIRST thing I would think of. But given you have eliminated so many others...
                    Janet

                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Su Valley View Post
                      Quit dicking around with the grains, scrounge up as much/many feed items as you can get your hands on, and try offering everything. Mashes of any kind-soaked alfie cubes/pellets, beet pulp w/molasses, any combination you can create. Licorice might help too-black only. If he seems interested, a couple drops of anise might help.

                      Offer different hays. Strip the stall completely and change bedding (could in theory be having an allergic reaction to something in the environment) Wash blankets too, if you use them. Wash brushes, etc.

                      Get some Nutrient Buffer (www.vitaroyal.com) worth every penny, get some down him if you have to drench.

                      He may also be ulcerative, soy our vet should check into that too, as possible cause of weight loss.

                      And good heavens, 400 pounds on a 16 hand horse is a CS 1. If so, he should be in the clinic on IV!
                      Trust me, no dicking around with any grain going on. He's offered a bit every day, mostly to see where his appetite is at. The day he starts eating it again, we know he's doing better

                      He's been on 3 different beddings (here, at the vets, and the new stuff we now have) in the last two weeks, so it's probably not that, but it's a good notion!

                      Blankets aren't normally cleaned but..um.. after his explosive diahrea episode, it got a GOOD washing. Required, sadly. So conveniently enough that's good.

                      haven't heard of Nutrient Buffer -- will look that up in a sec, thanks!!

                      Otherwise, he's been offered everything -- and aside from grass hay and some of his alfalfa (and carrots...) he simply has *no* interest. It's snowed here too, so no fresh grass either. He wont' touch sugar cubes, ANY grain, bran mash, etc. That, if anything, is probably the most frustrating part about it.

                      He spent last week in the clinic on an IV. He's not getting worse now - I should be thankful for that - but there's definitely nothing 'better'.

                      thanks so much!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ehrlichiosis?
                        "The symptoms of ehrlichiosis may resemble symptoms of various other infectious and non-infectious diseases. These clinical features generally include fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Other signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, joint pains, confusion, and occasionally rash. Symptoms typically appear after an incubation period of 5-10 days following the tick bite. It is possible that many individuals who become infected with ehrlichiae do not become ill or they develop only very mild symptoms."


                        Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
                        http://www.chronicleofmyhorse.com/profile/blackstallion

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Did I mention Gastroguard? Biosponge and Gastroguard are your friends...
                          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                          ---
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The edema and the pounding puls you describe plus the intolerance to exercise makes me think congestive heart failure. How experienced is your vet? Has he consulted anyone?
                            Good luck!

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                              First of all, I would take him off all grain products and anything that might irritate his system. Then I would put him on Biosponge (talk to your vet about this). That would just be my 911, as I would for any horse showing those sort of symptoms.

                              Now as to what it is.. I'm leaning towards something tick-borne. The edema is classic. Other than that, I am wondering if previous to this he may have had an encysted strongyle problem that is making this worse. Just throwing stuff out there.

                              Hope he feels better soon, poor guy.

                              No worries about grain - he hasn't eaten more than a mouthful in weeks. Past several days, none at all.

                              Biosponge ? I'll add that to the list too, thanks! It's good to hear about stuff that's worked for other folks. Goodness knows there's a billion+ products out there that 'claim' a lot more than they can deliver.

                              the worm thing has been considered -- I'll bounce that off of my vet again and try to remember why he dismissed it. I think mostly because he's been on regular worming (until this month, he was due a week ago but the way he is right now we didn't want to risk complications) his entire life (or at least since age 3 when I got him).

                              thanks so much for the good wishes. He needs those right now

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by blackstallion View Post
                                Ehrlichiosis?
                                "The symptoms of ehrlichiosis may resemble symptoms of various other infectious and non-infectious diseases. These clinical features generally include fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Other signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, joint pains, confusion, and occasionally rash. Symptoms typically appear after an incubation period of 5-10 days following the tick bite. It is possible that many individuals who become infected with ehrlichiae do not become ill or they develop only very mild symptoms."


                                Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

                                *adds to research list* thanks!

                                apparently we have no ticks in this area though. but we did in California -- but that was 4 months ago. Hrm. thanks!!

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                                  Did I mention Gastroguard? Biosponge and Gastroguard are your friends...
                                  We might try Gastroguard just to see if it is ulcer related. Rightnow I figure we might be dealing with more than one problem.

                                  He's always been a nervous horse (well, used to be. right now he's pretty dull) and we've used Gastroguard in the past with his rental tubular acidosis flare ups, but mostly as a preventative. ok ok so it's costly but rightnow I can't really give a damn :P

                                  thanks!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I rehab horses and I find that even if they have just been on a regular deworming program, they will often show losses of condition at different times of year. Those losses of condition *seem* to be related to worm cycles, I cannot say for sure.. but after I do my usual "clean 'em out" program they become consistent in weight and condition. The age this seems to catch up with them is around 10 -12.

                                    So my question to you would be.. has he been regularly Powerpacked? Double Strongid? Has Ivermectin been used at weight or above to accomodate how much is lost in the mouth, spit out, etc. Has he ever been on daily dewormer (a major ding! ding! for me, I see a lot of problems later on from this one).

                                    Because of the fever this is not his acute problem, but the history screams worm load.

                                    BTW.. ticks? In the trailer. At rest stops. They are EVERYWHERE.
                                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                    ---
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                      IIRC, it is not at all uncommon for only one horse in the barn to get sick, though there are also cases where several are sick.

                                      Given your location, it isn't the FIRST thing I would think of. But given you have eliminated so many others...
                                      I saw that in another article! makes a lot of sense, considering the very non-contagious nature of whatever is going on.

                                      The fact we've that stream/pond at the backside of the pasture makes me wonder too. thanks

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Hi.

                                        This is really interesting. My horse had a bout of much the same kind of thing back in September. He's having another minor round of something similar now.

                                        I'm in Utah also.

                                        South Valley is my normal clinic, and they saw him last time around, but I got nervous yesterday and they couldn't send anyone out immediately, so I had the guy from up the road come take a look yesterday.

                                        Last time round, his blood was normal, all test results came back normal. Poor guy had a raging temperature and was pooping blood and mucus, and had a lot of midline lumpy edema and a grossly swollen sheath. He was on more bute and banamine than I like to give. Took about 3 weeks to get over the obvious symptoms and get back to eating normally again. We scratched out heads, put it down to a virus of unknown origin, or maybe EVA since there was so much going around, and got on with our lives.

                                        He's been colicky and miserable and swollen since the huge change in temp on Friday night. Banamine and hand walking got us through the weekend, but yesterday morning the vet came out, gave him a B12 shot, some banamine and some buscopam and drew blood.

                                        The results came back this morning. Liver and kidney function fine (which was a great relief), but low WBC and protein in the blood, so either some kind of enteric infection, or an angry ulcer in the intestinal tract.

                                        He's doing much better today. He's still way to sick to take to South Valley to scope for ulcers, so I'm thinking I'm going to start him on Gastrogard and see if that helps.

                                        I don't know if this is related to the last episode or not.

                                        PM me if you want to discuss...

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