Sudden death of young horse. Looking for answers. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 02-24-2013, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
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Sudden death of young horse. Looking for answers.

I've posted the past couple weeks about Lakota's colic and other strange behavior and today she died in my arms. The vet is dumbfounded and I just wish I could know if anyone else has had similar experiences.

Lakota coliced pretty bad a couple weeks ago. The vet came out and pumped her with banamine and mineral oil and the next day I gave her quest, because the vet suspected ciathostomes. A couple days later she had mild colic again and we gave her more banamine and I walked her for an hour and she was fine. She seemed a little off but the vet said that can happen when the larva are dying and being passed out of the GI tract.

A few days went by and she was doing much better. We went on a trail ride and she was fine and happy. Yesterday I got a call from my BO and she said Lakota was acting very strange. She said she was lethargic, refusing to eat or drink, and was standing facing walls alone. She said when she turned her out yesterday morning, she walked past the round bale, into the shed, and stood there alone staring at the back wall.

She checked her temperature and it was fine so the vet said to make an appointment to have some labs done.

Last night Lakota was apparently running into things. She didn't eat her grain or hay, but did knock her water bucket over and break it in half, eat a bunch of the wood in the stall, and eat the plastic off of her grain bowl. (I was updated about this at 11:30 this morning) The BO said she seemed to be doing better, she was walking faster, but she was pacing around her dry lot, still refusing to eat.

I was out there by 1:30 and when I found her she was bleeding from her nose and/or mouth, was walking zigzaggy and unable to maintain her balance. She was wheezing and her breathing was extremely labored. I grabbed her and put a halter on, and she had a blank and unresponsive look on her face. I called the vet immediately and she was out within 30 minutes. During that time, Lakota progressively got worse, stumbling, walking into things, sweating, and falling. She had been able to get herself up a couple times, but the third time, she flopped and couldn't get back up.

Her head looked swollen, like her brain was bulging through her temples.

The vet showed up and gave her banamine and a steroid shot. Took her temp and it was 105.5. She was really struggling to breathe, so the vet tried to scope her and couldn't see into her trachea. She did a tracheostomy to get her breathing better and I just sat in the snow with her by her head. Her mouth was foamy and her eyes were bloodshot. The vet was able to scope her this time, and said that there was a lot of edema around her trachea, which could cause the breathing problems.

After an hour and a half, her breathing had slowed a little bit, but she was still not doing well. Her temp was still 105.5 and her gums were blue. She looked like she was in shock and wasn't getting better. Her breathing started to slow and I rubbed her head and told her it was ok to go, and within a minute, she died.

The vet says she'll be in touch and talk to some other vets and see if they have seen anything like this before. She said the symptoms just don't add up. The fever, the confusion, the edema, the doesn't make any sense.

If anyone has heard of anything like this before, I would like to hear your story. Thank you for your responses.
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post #2 of 38 Old 02-24-2013, 11:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Oh, I am so sorry for you and your horse to have gone through such tragedy. My condolences.

I can't tell you about what this would have been. I will tell you that my friends four horses died this year from the weed 'common groundsel' in their hay. She did find her one gelding with his front legs in his hay bin (which is a plastic produce bin) and he fell forward puting his head through the plywood wall of his shelter. It seemed like a wierd behavior to have found him like that. He was very lethargic and fever prior and had vet attention. They all died of liver failure.

I hope someone may have an idea for you. I again, am so sorry.
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post #3 of 38 Old 02-25-2013, 02:33 AM
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Is there any wheat in the hay? Sounds like a possible allergic reaction.

My broodmare when she was a coming two year old had a severe allergic reaction to something involving wheat in the hay. Her head swelled up so much she couldn't lift it off the ground. Our vet didn't have a clue. She wound up having to call an old grandfather vet who told her "Ain't you never heard of the 'big head'?" I will not forget that night. She recovered well enough, though.

I am so sorry for your loss. :(
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post #4 of 38 Old 02-25-2013, 02:52 AM
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Could it have been a brain aneurysm?

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post #5 of 38 Old 02-25-2013, 03:05 AM
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I have no idea. But I am so sorry for your loss.
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post #6 of 38 Old 02-25-2013, 03:20 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyDreamer View Post
"Ain't you never heard of the 'big head'?"
Not sure if this is related, but I just found this information in an article I was reading on noxious plants.
"Signs of ‘big head
Signs of the condition usually develop after 6 - 8 months of grazing soluble oxalate pastures. Some cases have been reported to occur after only 2 months.
- Stiff and shortened gait
- Joint tenderness
-Loss in condition even when plenty of pasture is available
- Swollen jawbones - the upper, lower or both jawbones can be affected"

Doesn't sound right if that's what the guy was referring too. I'm keeping an eye out in this article for you though, OP, in case any of these plants might explain something.

My condolences.

EDIT: I was just reading through symptoms of chewing disease and read this - "The horse may stand with its head so low that its nose is almost touching the ground. A horse standing in this position for long periods can develop swelling of the head." A possible explanation for the head swelling?

Last edited by Tracer; 02-25-2013 at 03:29 AM.
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post #7 of 38 Old 02-25-2013, 08:21 AM
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Sounds like white snakeroot in the hay. Because of drought and a lot of CRP land made into hay last year, this is rather common. Symptoms of snakeroot poisoning include; depression, labored breathing, muscle tremors, hanging the head down, and death
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post #8 of 38 Old 02-25-2013, 08:27 AM
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i am very very sorry for your loss

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post #9 of 38 Old 02-25-2013, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Icrazyaboutu View Post
Could it have been a brain aneurysm?
This would be my guess as well. With bleeding from the nose and blue gums it sounds like blood loss. The colic could have just been a coincidence. As a brain aneurysm would grow it would push on the brain causing weird symptoms like confusion and not being able to walk properly. Or a brain tumor.
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post #10 of 38 Old 02-25-2013, 09:06 AM
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Certainly sounds neurological but an aneurysm would be quick, not take as long as it did. Hickstead passed from what they believe was an aneurysm. They generally drop within seconds of onset.

OP, no real idea but my heart grieves for you. It's so hard to lose one, especially under such circumstances.
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