The Suddenly Anemic Horse Mystery...Aggh! HELP!
 
 

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The Suddenly Anemic Horse Mystery...Aggh! HELP!

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  • Horse is very anemic
  • What causes low red blood cell count in horses

 
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    09-16-2009, 03:52 PM
  #1
Weanling
The Suddenly Anemic Horse Mystery...Aggh! HELP!

Okay, so last Thursday, the 10th, I gave Buck, my 4H project, a bath so I could get pictures for 4H papers. He was acting perfectly normal, like Buck (jittery, spunky, energetic, spinning-in-circles and stepping on my toes, etc.), then I took the pics and rode him a bit (I forgot my girth that day so I had to ride bareback). Then I took him back down to his pasture and put him away.

On Monday morning, I was finishing up my schoolwork when Buck's owner called, saying he was down and not wanting to eat. I finished my work and headed over to see what was up. He was in a stall, moving around, interested in the strands of hay on the floor, but a bit slow and, surprizingly, lazy.

I groomed him a bit until the vet got there, then the vet took some blood samples and gave him some banamine after cheking his heartrate (12 bpm) and his temperature (96* F). His gums were pale, also.
Tuesday, the vet came back. The blood tests showed he was anemic. His owner got a 2 mo. Supplement, and the vet said he'd gome back about when the stuff was gone.

I said hi to him after the vet left, and since he'd been turned out in the compound by the stalls, he was loose in the compound. I called to him and he came trottin' right up to me, acting just about normal (he's usually a little more calm right there by the barn).

My question is - how could he just, all of a sudden, be anemic? He wasn't on Thursday. Could he have eaten something? If it was in the hay or grain, the other horses (being older) certainly would have showed the same signs. I thought that, since he hasn't been wormed in almost 6 mo., could parasites be attached to the insides of his intestines, sucking blood? The vet didn't think so, though.

Sorry I've made a book out of this weekend, but I'm really anxious here. I don't need to be riding him much until next spring, maybe just patterning him around barrels, since I hope to use him for all-around stuff.

Please, anyone with ideas or suggestions, even questions, please share!
     
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    09-16-2009, 04:02 PM
  #2
mls
Trained
He could of been anemic all along. It is not uncommon.

Are you sure about the pulse and the temp? Temp is a bit low for 'normal' but the resting heart rate is well within normal range.
     
    09-16-2009, 04:12 PM
  #3
Yearling
I doubt it was all of a sudden, it was just his body could not longer function properly. He most likely had been not well for a while. It's like people who have clogged arteries, they can function for years and the bam! The body can no longer function and we have a heart attack.

Sorry MLS we were posting at the same time......
     
    09-16-2009, 04:16 PM
  #4
mls
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by G and K's Mom    

Sorry MLS we were posting at the same time......
Great minds . . .
     
    09-16-2009, 07:15 PM
  #5
Yearling
I agree that the anemia was an ongoing problem that became apparent recently. There are only three reasons for anemia; the animal is bleeding out (internally or externally), the animal's own body is shredding it's red blood cells, the animal is not making blood cells to replace old ones (they have about a 7 day turn over period). All of these are serious and I am curious to know why the vet didn't work it up further. Usually you don't put an animal on supplements without trying to find the underlying cause for a low red cell count.
     
    09-16-2009, 07:30 PM
  #6
Foal
There are factors in an environment that can cause anemia in other animals aswell not really sure if it affects horses but it got the best of our cat :(
     
    09-17-2009, 05:14 PM
  #7
Weanling
Tealamutt: Yes, my mom noticed it was wierd that, if Buck was truly anemic, the vet didn't do a belly tap or something to see if he was bleeding internally.
UPDATE on Buck from my perspective:
I rode him a bit today, sort of flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants just in case he passed out or something. His gum color was Pepto-bismol pink, lol, he was very excited to be out and about, and his canter was like BOOM! Bullet out of a gun! (His stop was just as quick, too!)
My mom called a different vet yesterday, and he said, if he really was anemic, he would have done something to find the cause. He also said, after my mom told him what was going on, that he probably just had a tummy ache. Bucky boy was fine today, as BUCK as ever, and perfectly normal. (He wouldn't stand still long enough for us to check his pulse, even better!)
If he ever shows those sick-horse signs again, though, something will be done.
Thanks guys, for your input!
     
    09-17-2009, 05:50 PM
  #8
Yearling
Well, sounds like your mom got the same info I was going to give you. Anemia is a commonly overdiagnosed in horses because people forget that they store up to 30% of their red blood cells in their spleen when not needed. So it's common to have a somewhat low RBC count or Packed Cell Volume on a horse who has a completely normal number of Red Blood Cells. To get an accurate RBC count in horses, they have to be worked for several minutes prior to drawing blood.

If a horse is truly anemic a good vet will try to find the cause.
     
    09-17-2009, 08:07 PM
  #9
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryle    
Well, sounds like your mom got the same info I was going to give you. Anemia is a commonly overdiagnosed in horses because people forget that they store up to 30% of their red blood cells in their spleen when not needed. So it's common to have a somewhat low RBC count or Packed Cell Volume on a horse who has a completely normal number of Red Blood Cells. To get an accurate RBC count in horses, they have to be worked for several minutes prior to drawing blood.

If a horse is truly anemic a good vet will try to find the cause.
It is true that they store blood in their spleen but that is reserve. It would cause a horse to have a high PCV when the spleen contracts due to stress, pain, work, etc. but not to have a low PCV when at rest. If you're commonly seeing "low PCV" your reference intervals need to be adjusted.
     
    09-18-2009, 11:13 AM
  #10
Weanling
That's what the other vet said when my mom called him, Ryle! So nice to hear two sources say that... :)
Thanks again, everyone. I always like to get more than one opinion on a subject.
     

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