Fever, lethargy, reduced apetite, weight loss

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Fever, lethargy, reduced apetite, weight loss

This is a discussion on Fever, lethargy, reduced apetite, weight loss within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    07-23-2012, 07:08 PM
Fever, lethargy, reduced apetite, weight loss

I live in the Sierra Foothills in California and my 17-year-old mare, Reno, has been gradually losing weight. She typically loses weight over the winter months, so I didn't pay too much attention to it, but she's gotten increasingly thinner. We have separated her from the other horses, and noticed she wasn't eating like she normally would. She took a few bites and turned away. We took her temp and found it to be 103.3. I called the vet right away who said that she probably had tick fever. He gave her bute and a prescription of doxycycline. Next day he called and said her blood tests did not confirm tick fever and so wanted to take a full chemical panel. The only thing that was somewhat elevated was her white count. He says that UC Davis is doing a study on a thing they're calling "Foothill Fever" and so he took blood to give to that study. I'm still waiting for those results. That was five days ago. I went out to take her temp again and found it ag 104.3! I gave her bute and am monitoring her, but am so worried. An hour later, her temp went down to 103. Am about to check it again. Does anyone out there have any experiences with this? A friend came over and gave her Ulc-R-Aid thinking it was a tummy problem, but that doesn't seem to be doing anything either. Any info would be very appreciated. Thank you.
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    07-23-2012, 07:23 PM
If her white blood cell count is up and she has a fever this suggests an infection of some sort so very unlikely to be ulcers. Any other signs or symptoms e.g. Runny nose, swelling, or perhaps a cut that may have become infected?

Bute should help a bit with temp and inflammation but it sounds like the vet will need to prescribe a course of antibiotics once the blood work comes back.

Keep her stalled if possible, provide plenty of fresh water and hay. Avoid drafty places and make sure you don't overrug her as her core body temp needs to come down.
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LKC likes this.
    07-23-2012, 07:24 PM
Oh and horses generally lose their appetite when they have a fever. So that's likely why she's not eating.
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    07-23-2012, 08:12 PM
Thank you. Yes, her apetite would decrease with fever, but she's been losing weight for a few months and hasn't had a fever until now. I have her on the Doxycycline, so hopefully that will help. I'm just very worried. THese are the times I wish she could talk! Thank you again :)
    07-23-2012, 08:32 PM
Has her appetite been ok until now, even with the weightloss? What would you score her condition?

Fever is obviously a serious thing, but a pretty generic symptom of infection so it'd be a good idea to really have a look over her for bites, cuts, scratches, swelling or anything else out of the ordinary that might help pin down what it is.

Also, has she had any contact with alien horses in the days prior to her fever showing? Are you able to fully quarantine her from your other horses?

Do you know when the bloods will be back?
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    07-23-2012, 08:45 PM
She does not have any bites, other than the usual fly bites she gets. She has no cuts and there is no sign of abcess anywhere. She hasn't been with any other horses at all, and yes, she is now totally separated from the other three horses. I would rate her condition as a 6 to 7. I called the vet today and they said they're still waiting for the complete panel; this university is doing it for free since it will benefit their study, so they're taking their time. In the meantime, I'm taking her temp every four hours and treating her fever when needed and giving her the antibiotics.
    07-23-2012, 08:57 PM
I had a boarder's horse that ran very high fevers for over a week. Multiple tests showed higher WBC's too. His temp was even higher than your mare's. It would rise 1 degree per hour if allowed. He needed around the clock baths (diluted Listerine baths are very cooling) & banamine. The vet suspected a virus but we never found out exactly what it was.
He didn't act too lethargic though. He turned out fine but I think the high fevers messed with his brain a bit. (long story)
I hope whatever it is runs it's course without complications.
EvilHorseOfDoom likes this.
    07-23-2012, 09:12 PM
Id start her on antibiotics for infection. And pick up some red cell at tsc. Its an iron supplement and should help with the lethargy.

I had a mare with the same symptoms. Come to find out, she had a bacterial infection. No idea where she got it cause it was beginning of february when weight loss started.

Better safe then sorry.
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    07-23-2012, 09:13 PM
Yep, if she's not responding to the antibiotic then I'd be suspecting a virus. Just got to wait til your horse's immune system works out how to fight it if so - make sure she stays resting to preserve her energy for fighting it off, try and keep her core temp as low as possible by bathing her as natisha mentioned and keeping up the bute, and get her eating and drinking if possible.

Hope the bloods don't identify anything too serious and she recovers quickly :)
    07-23-2012, 09:15 PM
Thank you. I think it's a virus myself. I like the bath idea. I very much appreciate your input.

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