Older Horse- Could This Be Heart Problems?

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Older Horse- Could This Be Heart Problems?

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    01-01-2012, 09:20 PM
Question Older Horse- Could This Be Heart Problems?

This is about my very close friend's horse.

He is a 24-26 year old arabian gelding. Last tuesday he developed a swelling in the tip of his sheath and it looked like there had been a pool ball stuck in it. She gave him some bute for the swelling to see if it would go down a little. She checked his temperature later and it was 103. Then later on that night they went to check him and she said he was sweating so hard and they checked his temp and his temp was back at 99. Since he was sweating they put a cooling sheet on him so he wouldn't freeze.

That same night he was eating and drinking normally but he couldn't rest his back feet she said. And she also said he was breathing pretty heavily. She stayed in the barn with him for a while(actually fell asleep in a lawn chair) He also developed an edema under his belly.

The next day they kept him in his stall due to bad weather and checked his temp. It was still at 99. She had called the vet and left a message waiting for them to get back to her. When she checked again his sheath was still swollen and when he peed it was an orangy color(highly concentrated) so thinking he wasn't drinking she gave him electrolytes to make him drink. The vet called back and told her to put him on the antibiotics that she has for her other horse(he's on the antibiotics because sometimes gets nose bleeds after work during warm days due to a condition he has) for 4 days and see waht happens. She was able to get an appt for tomorrow because the vet was on holiday in with family for christmas/new years.

Since wednesday he's been eating and drinking like normal and his temp was fine. But his edemas got worse on his belly.

So today she texted me a picture and the tip of his sheath is swollen bigger than her hand. And she said after 4 days on antibiotics his sheath had gotten larger and today they didn't give him bute in the morning and his temperature shot right back up to 103 so they gave him something to try to bring it down. She also said today he only ate like 5 bites of grain and wont eat his hay or even look like he's going to try. She said the edema under his belly feels like a posturpedic matress when you press it you can feel as the liquid slowly disperses and the even more slowly refills.

She just checked his temp about 5 mins ago and it came down to 100.9. She said he's breathing a bit harder than normal but not bad and he was sweating like a pig when they went out. I told her to check his pulse rate but she didn't know how but she said she knows it's gotta be elevated because she can see it in his neck.

Also over the passed say month or so he seems to have lost a good deal of muscle mass, he still has fat but in her words "he looks like a rescue case" because since there's no muscle it looks like everyhting just kind of sunk.

Could this have anything to do with his heart? That's what she's the most worried about right now. Her vet is coming out tomorrow morning. That's the only vet her family trusts hense why they waited until she was home from holiday. Her mom is not making it better by telling her that they'll probably be putting him down tomorrow. Her mom is stressing her out and I'm just trying to see if anyone has any input about this that may eleviate her stress a little.

I have pictures that she texted me of his sheath when the swelling first started and today from when it got worse. I'll post them on request if you believe you need to see them.
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    01-01-2012, 09:23 PM
Could be a lot of things. Cancer would be high on my list, with liver/kidney/heart problems also up there. Sounds pretty serious, anyway. :(
    01-01-2012, 09:36 PM
It sounds pretty serious to me also. I'm just trying to keep her calm, not get her hopes up, but calm. She's the type who gets crushed but doesn't want to show it. They way she's texting me I know she's worried/upset. I told her to stay calm and that she didn't have to hope for the best but don't expect the worst either. She said yeah but she always thought he'd have another 7-10 years left and not that something would happen so soon.

She wants me with her tomorrow when the vet comes out so I'll be going over a tad earlier and taking some pictures of her and rafiki together as a just in case and to make her feel better a little hopefully.
    01-01-2012, 09:49 PM
Something similar happened to my older horse(36-41 years old) in october, first his sheath was very very swollen, I cleaned it and got a huge bean out so I thought maybe that was the problem. The next day he was dead lame, wouldn't put any weight on his leg, he had a small cut on the inside of his hock that had gotten infected, the vet came out and thought it was the infection was in the joint(it wasn't luckily) He had a high fever. Over the next few days he swelled in his belly, both back legs and one front leg. It was really scary and I really thought I was going to lose him.

So aside from the limping, my horses symptoms are very very similar to your friend horse's. So maybe there is an infected cut in a hidden area that she hasn't seen? When my horse was lame I looked all over his swollen leg and it took me a good 10 minutes to see it because it was that small! I had taken pic of his sheath to post here and when I looked back a few days later I could see the cut in the one pic but it was so small I never would have thought that it would almost kill him!
I wish the best for your friends horse, I know all too well how scary it is to think you may be facing the end. I've had Blue for almost 14 years and the thought of loosing him is absolutely terrifying to me.

ETA: my horse needed more then just SMZ's for the infection he had, the vet has us use injectable gentimycin in conjunction with injectable penicillin
    01-01-2012, 09:51 PM
Could be a lot of things- but heart conditions (by themselves) don't cause a persistent fever. That fever makes me think there's something infectious involved in it somewhere. Antibiotics don't do a thing for viral and even some bacterial infections. I hope they're able to get some answers when the vet comes out.
    01-01-2012, 10:12 PM
I'm hoping so. The vet is pulling blood and doing a full exam so hopefully she'll be able to get down to the bottom of what it is. I'll be there so I'll let you know what the vet says. I hope it's nothing serious but it's in the back of my mind that it may be. My job tomorrow is emotional support.
    01-01-2012, 10:13 PM
Super Moderator
Tell your friend this one is a vet call. It could be something as simple as a bean but it could be something bigger. The fever alone is something to worry about.

Edit: Sorry... I thought I read the entire thread before responsding. Hope he feels better.
    01-01-2012, 10:14 PM
Farmpony edited hers so had to edit my response =P

It's okay. =)
    01-01-2012, 10:48 PM
This is tough, please keep us posted on what the vet says. I agree that if there is fluid building up that it's not a good sign.

Hugs to you and it's so awesome that you're planning on being there for your friend. She's going to need you!
    01-02-2012, 08:22 PM

Okay so the vet was delayed by an emergency and unfortunately the next scheduled time she was coming out today was when I was at work.

She said his heart is good. She did a rectal exam and counted out 8 melanomas along his large intestine. Apparently when the melanomas shed they cause a fever and the swelling is a result of poor circulation. She pulled blood work and the results should be back on Monday. Once they get the blood work back they can go from there to see what can be done. She also said his diet needed to be changed a little.

We'll see what the blood tests say. The fluids under his belly are really bad. I looked at them today and when you press them it literally feels like you're pressing into a slightly stiff memory foam mattress and it covers almost all of his under belly and sticks out a good amount.

I'm so worried about the poor boy

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