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desperately seeking thoughts on mystery ailment

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  • desperately seeking thoughts on mystery ailment

    I'm frustrated and perplexed and welcome anyone who has had horse exhibiting similar symptoms.

    Horse is 20 year old Arab w/pretty good history of healthy, regularly active life.

    The major symptoms are periodic episodes of deep abdominal stretching (front legs out) usually accompanied some staring at both flanks/hind end, brief sitting/laying down (no rolling, etc.) and lethargy. These episodes come on quickly and pass quickly, usually with only 10-15 min of hand walking. He's had about 10 of these episodes since 10/09.

    The onset of the episodes coincided with discovery of tapeworms. Treated for tape and did 30 day gastrogard and seemed fine for few weeks, then fecal tested positive for tapeworms and these episodes also started.

    He did not bounce back w/n week of second tapeworm finding, and blood test showed elevated kidney levels, which resulted in 1 week stay at equine clinic. Kidneys are functioning normally, no permanent damage.

    We've had two episodes since left clinic in mid-January. The last one was accompanied for first time by muscle tremors and white gums but no temperature and good gut sounds, and his heart and lungs sounded fine.

    There appears to be no correlation between onset of these episodes and exercise or meals. He's never really stopped eating grain or hay. Weight and muscle tone is good (even gained back what lost at clinic within few weeks of discharge).

    We've done: multiple ultrasounds, internal ultrasound via rectum, endoscopy through stomach, several abdominal taps, kidney biopsy, rectal biopsy, abdominal x-ray; numerous fecals; numerous blood panels.

    The only significant abnormality found is some thickening of outer wall of a section of the small intestine but that area was contracting normally and intestines are processing normally.

    Latest blood is negative for Ehrlichia and Rocky Mtn; waiting for Lyme results and results on Vit. E/Selenium.

    I'm sorry this is so long but if you have any ideas or experience with situation I'd appreciate very much hearing from you.

  • #2
    I have no advice or ideas but I wanted to say kudos to you for doing so much for this guy. Best of luck in finding an answer and a resolution.

    \"If you are going through hell, keep going.\" ~Churchill~


    • #3
      Why is it a mystery? He has tape worms. Apparently. Either you got them or you didn't Apparently, you didn't.

      Find a vet who will be agressive, and persistant, and not stop until he is healthy.
      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


      • #4
        Originally posted by crazyarab View Post
        The only significant abnormality found is some thickening of outer wall of a section of the small intestine but that area was contracting normally and intestines are processing normally.
        This set off warning bells for me. My dearly departed Munchkin had chronic colic-like episodes for several years before the big one hit, and it was an impaction caused by illeal hypertrophy, which is a thickening of the walls of the small intestine where it joins to the cecum.

        After his surgery, he was not allowed to ever eat hay again, as this thickening could cause another impaction. We changed his diet to a complete feed (Blue Seal Vintage Senior) and all the pasture grass he could eat 24 hours a day. He was fed 5 times a day in the winter, 3 times a day in the summer.

        Even if you eliminate the tapeworms, the thickening of the intestine may not resolve itself. Your horse may be having bouts of minor impactions that are causing pain as they try to move through the smaller opening in that section of the intestine.

        I would talk to your vet about changing to the no-hay diet if you can. FYI - all 3 of my horses went on this no-hay diet for the 15 months that Munchkin was with us after the surgery. All three horses were fat and happy, and looking good.
        There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


        • #5
          Thanks and I should have made clear that he has had 4 clean fecals since January so I think (thankfully) those are gone.


          • #6
            Sounds like gas colic.


            • #7
              It sounds like you've done a lot of work up for his GI system, and kidneys, what about the bladder?

              This is a different species, but same symptoms. My little dog is prone to bladder stones and sediment (sandy build up) The symptoms he exhibits when the sediment builds up are stretching like he has to pee, humping over, muscle twitching, and has on occasion had shocky symptoms, like low BP, white gums, etc. when it's really bad.

              Long story short, his bladder and urethra become so irritated that he is purely and completely miserable. We've had a good bit of luck in adjusting the PH level of his urine to make it more neutral than acidic, therefore not causing quite as much irritation.

              Likely not the same thing with your guy as he is a horse... but I'd maybe focus a little more energy on his bladder and even his sheath and penis... could be a small tumor or even just some kind of abrasion or blister that is really making him uncomfortable.
              Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


              • #8
                re idea on bladder. it seems fine and no stones based on all ultrasounds. but thank you!


                • #9
                  I'd agree that the intestinal wall thcikening could account for the signs.
                  "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

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


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MunchkinsMom View Post

                    I would talk to your vet about changing to the no-hay diet if you can. FYI - all 3 of my horses went on this no-hay diet for the 15 months that Munchkin was with us after the surgery. All three horses were fat and happy, and looking good.
                    I agree..


                    • #11
                      First off, kudos to you for being so thorough for your horse.

                      My 28 year old Arab had strange "colic but not really colic" episodes every 6 weeks or so for several years. Finally my vet had me take him off all hay and put him on "old man mash" 100% (hay pellets etc with water), thinking there was some intestinal abnormality. He also had access to pasture. The strange episodes stopped completely.

                      Good luck, I hope you figure it out. Sounds like you love your horse a lot.


                      • #12
                        Bladder stone?
                        Click here before you buy.


                        • #13
                          Encysted Small Strongyles will burrow out of the walls of the intestines towards the end of winter (warming temps) leaving holes and pain behind them. This is often the cause of "Spring Colic". If you didn't do a fenbendazole purge deworming (Panacur purge) during the cold months then out come the worms. Your gut would hurt too. Quest will also kill encysted small stronglyes but not quite as high of a % as the purge does, if I remember right.
                          For a good look at the damage they do look at this presentation about parasites and towards the end is a look at the intestine walls.

                          //www.equinestudies.umd.edu/documents/HWE2010/McKenzie10.pdf&rct=j&ei=PDyaS8aeF4H-8Ab6j9muDg&sa=X&oi=spellmeleon_result&resnum=1&ct= result&ved=0CAYQhgIwAA&q=encysted+small+stronglyes +university+maryland&usg=AFQjCNGVEdICshkHpEsp72eM9 Ln4VNzWHA