Strange Illness

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Strange Illness

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    10-19-2008, 06:58 PM
Strange Illness

I have a 20 year old (healthy as a 6 year old) broodmare who is 2 months into foal. Her 4 month old has just been weaned a week ago. I came out to the pasture yesterday to find her because she hadn't walked up at feeding time, and found her laying under a tree shivering, even though it was noon. I got a halter and lead on her, then tried to get her up but she would not stand. It took me half an hour to gather three more people, but we finally hauled her up. Angel was cold and clammy to the touch and still shivering, so I put her blanket on her then called the vet. The vet thought she had colicked, so he told me to walk her for 20 minutes then call back if anything happened. Of course, nothing did so I called back and he came out. While I was walking her, she began wheezing, acting like she was in pain, her eyes clouded over and having a watery runny nose. Lucky for us, the vet lives only 15 minutes away. By the time he got there, an hour after I found her, she still had not passed any manure or urine or even tried despite constant walking. The vet checked and found she had some diarrhea and that her bladder was the size of a basketball, he didn't see why she wouldn't have passed that with the walking. He took her temp at 104F and was surprised to hear that she had been freezing to the touch when I found her. He believed it was an infection of some sort, so he gave her a long acting antibiotic, something to relax her and gave us some antibiotic pills and bute.

After he left, she seemed ok for a few hours, mostly slept standing up. When she did move she wheezed so bad it was almost scary. I was also worried because I had not seen her even attempt to pass anything since the previous day. I took her blanket off for a few minutes to make an adjustment and I noticed that she had dropped enough weight in less than 24 hours for her ribs to show without having to look hard, and she has had a grass belly for a while now. At about 6pm, she finally passed some urine but it was only a small amount. Her temp still swings from 96F to 103F and back. I stayed with her all night and she finally seemed to get marginally better at about 3am. She seemed to be slightly more alert and the wheezing lessened some. Once she seemed a bit better, I slept for a few hours. She hasn't gotten any better since that time, but she did nibble at some wheat mash and is drinking some. She has no cough, and has not eaten any moldy hay or anything of the like.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? I've never had a horse do this, let alone a pregnant mare. She was totally fine, if even a little hyper, last night at feeding. She ate all her food and even tried to eat her pasture buddy's.

Also, with her not eating, I have no idea how to get the pill antibiotics in her. I crushed them up and tried to put it in her wheat mash, but she's only nibbling at that. Can I mix them with corn oil and give them to her like I do wormer using a syringe?

Thanks guys
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    10-19-2008, 09:38 PM
For the question reagarding the pills - can you pick up some unsweetened, natural applesauce? It's much better for them than corn oil (something to do with Omega 3-6 ratios, too much is really bad for them), and might also taste better as well. I would suggest crushing up the pill and putting it in applesauce, or even just plain water.
As for the illness, I have no idea - can the vet run a CBC and maybe some specialized bloodwork? Does he/she have any idea what it even MIGHT be? Neurological, perhaps?
I wish you all the best... please keep me updated :)
    10-19-2008, 10:45 PM
Wow, that's really scary. Did the vet check the fetus at all, or can that even be done so early on? I'm thinking of an infection from an internal injury of the fetus or uterus. If the uterus is injured or inflamed or whatever, couldn't that possibly cause problems with the urinary tract? I'm thinking injury because of the apparent quick onset. Sounds a lot like when my guy went into shock because his spleen moved, but his was sadly a downhill slide that couldn't be reversed. He never got better even for an hour, so chin-up -- she has improved and that's a positive thing. Did the vet do a rectal exam?

I really don't understand how she could possibly have lost that much weight in only 24 hours either.

Good luck -- hopefully there will more answers tomorrow for you!
    10-20-2008, 12:36 AM
I did finally get the pills in her, though it took half an hour. I wet down the powered pills into a paste then slid it into her mouth on my finger tip in little bits from the side. I waited until she swallowed, praised her, then did it again. But, hey, whatever works!

The vet thought it was an infection. I am going to call him in the morning and say that she is really bad off when she's not on bute, but fair when on it. She's just really exhausted, she keeps laying down for 45 minutes, then dragging herself over to the water trough. She will NOT stay in a stall, she freaks out when her herd isn't with her. She keeps going up to my alpha mare (who is normally evil) and standing next to her peacefully.

northernmama - The vet tried to check her when he was here, but her bladder was so big he couldn't feel anything. She had a loose, runny stool, too. The only other horse that I've ever seen drop this much weight is my Anglo Arab gelding. He was choked 3 days because the vet could not get out, he had a mare colicking who was also about to deliver and thought he was going to lose both of them, and my gelding dropped about 75lbs from stress. But this mare is a super easy keeper, I just don't understand it.

I'm going to call the vet in the morning again. She's really miserable, and wants her blanket all the time. She just keeps looking worse and worse.

I'll keep you guys updated, thanks for the responses!
    10-20-2008, 01:18 PM
Any news? I don't think this is just an infection at this point. Something's going on. Hope you can find some answers today. ((hugs))
    10-20-2008, 02:48 PM
No, she is the same as yesterday. The only time she seems to be alert is when I've given her bute, and even then she acts exhausted. The vet is coming out tomorrow if she isn't any better when I go out to check on her in about an hour. She hasn't dropped any more weight since the first day and has only nibbled at food. I can't even get her interested in treats.

Whenever she lays down, her 4 month old will walk up to her and nudge her, trying to get her up. I've never seen her do that. Bad sign?
    10-20-2008, 05:34 PM
Ya, this is not a happy place for sure. Is she in shock now? She must be -- high heart rate, maybe faint, pale gums, dehydrated by now... poor poor girl I'd get the vet out NOW if you can. She would be exhausted from the lack of oxygen in her body and if that's the case, it's all bad.
    12-17-2008, 02:40 AM
You might have some luck hydrating her if you put some sweetfee (just a litte) in her feed bowl and then fill it about 2 inches with water. In fishing for the feed she'll slurp the water, just keep fillling it before she gets the grain. Hopefully the weightloss is due to lack of water. The fact that the alpha mare and her foal are worried about her is not a good sign. Wish I could offer more help, good luck.
    12-17-2008, 04:02 AM
This sounds really weird and scary... I wouldn't think it was just an infection, coming on this suddenly... you'd normally get a bit of warning with her behaviour etc. Now, the fact that she's better on bute shows that she's probably in pain or discomfort, and I have no idea why but I've got a feeling its to do with her insides. Not colic, but something causing her pain. I have no idea why I think that, but its just... yeah. I'd definitely get the vet to do a blood test ASAP! Best of luck.
    12-17-2008, 12:56 PM
Not to make matters worse for you right now but if it was my horse I would load her in the van and get to her the hospital or equine clinic if you can. She is in trouble and needs to get on IV fluids and evaluated by an equine vet asap.

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