I have a 13 yr old TB gelding. About three months ago he dropped weight drastically. We started adding things to his grain to help with this (tried Purina Cool Calories, then went to shredded beat pulp, corn oil and calf manna). We also upped his hay intake. Nothing seemed to help. He started to shed out his winter coat and was bald underneath of it. He also around the same time started having trouble urinating (would pee frequently and in very short spurts). I freaked and called our vet. Blood was drawn, tests run and it was determined that he had a severe infection. This infection was causing him to be anemic, have low enzyme levels, his lack of new hair growth, his weight loss...etc. He was given a massive dose of penicillin and put oral antibiotics for two weeks. In this two weeks he started to put some weight back on, it wasn't much but it was noticeable. I thought we were doing good! Not two days after the end of the antibiotics things started going downhill. He was continually weak to the point of needing the barn to lean on to stand. He started hanging his head low, his bottom lip would droop and the weight started coming back off (yes, it was noticeable in such short amount of time). He was then put on an injectable vitamin complex to help with his anemia and enzyme levels (this was thought to be the reason he was so weak). A couple days later he started to stumble and went off his feed almost completely. He was then diagnosed with EPM.
I had heard of this disease in passing only. I started to do my research. What I have read about it terrifies me. His medication had to be ordered (a four day wait) and he has now been on it for three days (tonight will be his fourth dose). I have been told that it will take weeks for him to start to show improvement. The problem is that he is going downhill so fast. He is now completely lame in his back left leg. He practically drags it around. His head is never raised more then a foot and a half off the ground. We have had to move his hay and grain to the ground just to get him to take few bites. He is maybe taking in a quarter of the grain that he was originally and maybe a bead of hay a day. (Charlie is big horse, standing at 16.3, this isnt enough feed to sustain him). He is in so much pain (which he is on banamine for) that he grunts when he walks and refuses to back at all. His weight keeps dropping and he looks like a skeleton. I noticed tonight that he would stand with his head down and his mouth gaping open.
The only bright spot in this is that he hasnt gone down on us yet. He remains standing through it all even with the stumbling and pain that he is in. I have read the statistics for recovery of this disease. 80% recover with a 30% relapse rate. What I want to know, I can't seem to find...How far downhill are they before treatment doesnt work? What % of recovered horses recover enough to be sound for work? How will I know when he is to far gone to keep attempting to treat him? Is there anything that I can mix and basically force feed him (yes with a syringe if I have to) to make sure he is taking in nutrients?
I have never had to deal with ANY type of issues that would make me have to consider euthanizing one of my horses. I suppose you could consider me lucky so far. This is frustrating to the point of sickness. Seeing him as thin and in pain as he is while my other horses are fat and happy is probably the most painful thing in the world for me. I feel so helpless. He looks at me for help and I can't seem to give him anymore then I already am.
Any tips, advice....ANYTHING would be helpful right now. He is on banamine for the pain and ponazuril for the EPM. I bought a jar of Su-per DMSO gel that I had planned to rub on his legs but Im not sure if that is safe to use while he's on the other meds. My vet, although amazing at treating horses, isnt the type of person to stand and answer questions for me.