Urinary incontinence - 20 yr. old OTTB - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-06-2012, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Urinary incontinence - 20 yr. old OTTB

My 20 year old OTTB has begun dribbling and sometimes even producing a small stream of urine almost constantly. It's making his hind legs disgusting. DB has never been shy about showing his penis and it hangs constantly...now it's also leaking urine constantly! We went to the vet yesterday and had an exam...a urine specimen was sent off for examination and I'm awaiting the results this afternoon. The vet palpated DB's bladder through the rectum and found it full. His provisional diagnosis: Johnson grass poisoning! Specifically, sorghum cystitis causing a neurological problem that is usually progressive. I was astounded. To my knowledge, there is no Johnson grass in his field and we haven't been anywhere unusual lately. Despite being a thoroughbred, DB has been a rock solid trail horse for the last 11 years. He lives with about 15 other horses, none of whom have similar problems. Upon returning to the farm, I was floored when the owner told me that the hay she's been feeding (coastal bermuda) has some Johnson grass in it!!! Well dried Johnson grass shouldn't cause a problem, but it seems some horses are more susceptible than others. DB lives in the pasture here in upstate SC 24/7. I know that new shoots of Johnson grass are deadly, but obviously DB isn't dead! I am thoroughly confused and scared for my horse. From what I've read, if this IS the problem, it usually results in the horse being euthanized. Has anyone had any similar experience? Does anyone have any information to share? I'm ready to clutch at any straw!
DB has been my husband's horse for the last 11 years and I honestly don't know how Jim will deal with this if we have to put DB down.
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-07-2012, 05:44 AM Thread Starter
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Update: lab results came back and the urine was fine. No crystals or bacteria.
The vet is now convinced it's a neurological thing from Johnson grass. He did have a large bean that was missed in sheath cleaning, but that's been removed and he's still dripping and streaming. At this point, it's watch and wait.
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-07-2012, 09:18 AM
Green Broke
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I hope your horse will be OK,now that you found a cause.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-07-2012, 09:24 AM
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Why didn't they empty the bladder with a catheter? A full bladder is painful & what is dripping out is just overflow.
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-07-2012, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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I honestly don't know. This is an excellent, caring, equine vet that we have used for years. He knows that I will not allow any animal to suffer. That day I had both horses in for their yearly routine shots, teeth floating and problems. We moved the appointment up because of DB's problem -- I wouldn't want anyone to think we just waited for his routine visit. We got bad news about both DB AND my other horse and I was reeling. DB has not shown any signs of discomfort and/or pain and I realize that as a prey animal, he would probably be very stoic so I've been looking for it. I could certainly understand if he were blocked, there would be pain...or if he had an infection with passing crystals, bacteria or blood. This varies from a constant drip to a small, steady stream of clear urine and thus, it would appear to relieve any pressure. I will DEFINITELY ask him about this, but I would be shocked if he failed to volunteer the information if DB was in pain.

The other horse, Mr. Big Stuff, is a 14 year old 14.2 h racking horse. He's grey and we have repeatedly had squamous cell carcinomas frozen off from his penis over the last 4 years. Last year he was clear and I was thrilled. This year he has major plaques and tiny seeds of tumors the length of his penis. It has just exploded. Given his age, color, and temperment, we'll knock him out, lay him down and remove as much as possible and then just keep him comfortable. When he starts being in pain, I'll put him down. The only other option would be to completely amputate his penis and re-route his urethra so that he pees like a mare. It's extensive, expensive surgery and I'm not going to put him (or my checkbook) through it. It won't cure his color and as Dr. Outlaw saws, we have no idea what's happening inside. The smaller, seed type tumors are not a good sign.
We have him thoroughly checked every Fall and every Spring because it's impossible to clean his sheath in the winter. He's difficult about it any time of the year (probably because it's been subjected to repeated treatments) but I can sympathize with his reluctance in the winter.

It was just a rotten day at the vets.
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-07-2012, 10:12 PM
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Man, that's a really bad day at the vets. You have a lot to deal with, and not many options. I am sending caring vibes your way....
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-07-2012, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, Ladytrails. All caring vibes are appreciated. Db is a very special horse. 11 years ago my husband learned to ride on him just 4 weeks after his last race. They've been together ever since. Big can be a total little snot, but he's MY little snot. He thinks he's 17 hands and while he's far from stupid, he can be really close to stubborn. Not many people would put up with him. But we connect and I'll see him through this. Sadly, I see a lot of tears on the horizon.
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