Can't get his legs to stop swelling
I took my horse out Cross Country last Saturday (3/23). I haven't ever wrapped my horse and no one mentioned much to me about the fact that he should probably be wrapped after such a workout. Needless to say when i came out Sunday to see him, his back legs were wrecked. The swelling was so bad that the skin busted open and the fluid was seeping out. I wrapped him, and got him home. I called the vet and told him he needed to come out ASAP. I was most worried about cellulitis. The vet said he needed 10cc of Dex and there wasn't much he would be able to do for him.
It's been a little over a week now. He had 10cc of Dex on Sunday, and then another 10 on Thursday. While there's no heat, and he's not lame, the legs continue to be very swollen. If he's wrapped all night, the legs go back to normal. If he's worked, the legs go back to normal. But i've NEVER had to keep my horse wrapped up all the time because of stocking up. So i'm concerned. I'm concerned that he's going to be chronically stocked up forever. Is this possible? Has anyone ever had this happen? I feel terrible for how this all happened. He was so good for me at the cross country clinic, and we had so much fun... only for it to turn into this big mess with him in pain because i don't know what the heck i'm doing!!! It's very frustrating.
Cold hose his legs?????? That's what I would do. And maybe seek another opinion from a seperate vet.
I am assuming that:
1) He has no fever.
2) The swelling 'pits' with pressure. When you squeeze it between your thumb and a finger. [How long does the 'pit' stay there?]
3) He has no similar swelling in his ventral belly.
Is there any way you can leave this horse out most of the time? Constant exercise will do more than anything else for him. Being stalled is not good for a horse that has started seriously stocking up. And yes. It could be an ongoing problem from now on.
How old is this horse? Does he tire easily. If he is older or tires easily or has ventral edema, he needs a complete workup by an eguine center. These are early signs of congestive heart failure and/or an inadequate blood flow and return flow.
If he were mine (I am not a Vet recommending anything to anyone else) and he had no serious symptoms (like listed above) and no fever, I would put him out when I could (even if he needed a winter storm bkanket and hood) and wrap him with a DMSO, Dexametasone and Furacin sweat in standing wraps when he had to be in. I would stay away from elastic type pressure wraps. While they do not let fluid accumulate, they also do not promote increased blood flow. Only exercise does that and that is what he needs most. Next best thing (in my opinion only) would be the sweats which will increase blood flow. DMSO is the best anti-inflamatory available with or without a prescription. It is much better than any steroid, can be mixed with Dex and has none of the bad side effects.
He is 9 years old... will be 10 in July. He doesn't have a fever. The legs do not "pit" with pressure. He doesn't have any swelling in his belly. Eating normally and well. I left the wraps off today... when i got to the barn this evening, he was all swollen again. He was pretty stiff and sore. He works out of it within a few minutes, and the swelling goes right down again. I called the vet this afternoon and asked that he come out. He won't be able to come until Thursday of next week (4/11). So i'm just going to try and ride him as much as possible and keep him wrapped as long as i can. How often should I be sweating? He does still have open wounds from where the fluid keeps weeping out of. I have only sweat the legs 3 days in a row and have been dry wrapping since.
You need to cold hose his legs for about 10 minutes minimum after you work him. If you have a cold pond where he can stand up to his knees for a bit, that would work too.
I cold hose in the morning after i pull his wraps. Then after i ride. However, the swelling really only gets out of control because he's standing in a stall all day until i get out to ride. My trainer puts him on the hot walker for about an hour or two, but it's not enough to pull the swelling down as much as working him in the arena sand does. I would love for him to be in a pasture with other horses, that's just not possible where we are. I have been "Googling" DMSO all night. I have my degree in pharmacology, so I have worked with DMSO for patients... i suppose i just never thought about using it on a horse. You have to be pretty careful with the medical grade stuff. I'm going to ring the vet tomorrow and see what he thinks about it. I'd like to give it a try.
If the swelling goes down with movement then that is what he needs. I would find somewhere where he can be out 24/7 or at least in a dry lot.
DMSO is really good for getting swelling out, although if I ever have another horse with swelling... I'd be more comfortable using something else because I hear different things from different people. It worked great for when Indie's leg swelled up to the size of a stove pipe... she also had problems with her legs stocking up before then if she spent the night or day in her stall but for that, she was just outside 24/7.
If you go with DMSO, just remember that when you change the wraps, you need to wash off the existing DMSO from the leg before putting more on. You probably knew that already though, but I figured I'd add that.
Actually, much of the DMSO negative info is false.
I have used it for over 50 years. My old Vet (of more than 25 years) recently retired. He experimented with it and used it extensively much earlier than most other Vets did. He started using it IV more than 20 years ago and saved many horses with it long before I heard of any other Equine clinics using it. He had me use it for some really bazaar and exotic problems on horses that were as good as dead. I saved several horses with internal abscesses from ******* strangles and from lung abscesses accompanying exotic forms of foal pneumonia when every Vet around us was losing every single case they treated. I have saved several horses with advanced cellulitis and lymphangitis with it.
In the early 60s, it was only available in crude dirty grades that came straight from paper pulp mills where it is a by-product that was discovered accidentally.
It does not spread an infection. It is bacteriostatic - it will not take in bacteria with it, but, it will take in other drugs. Its solvent abilities will disperse steroids and antibiotics exactly where they are needed.
It is the first thing I reach for with any open wound that cannot be sutured. I mix it with Gentomycin and have NEVER had a wound treated this way that got infected and did not heal more quickly that it would have. For one thing, it reduces swelling and so there is so much less damage to the edges and surrounding area.
It is the first thing I use any time a horse comes up sore -- just as soon as I can identify the problem. I've used it on mild to severe tendon strains, ligament strains (particularly suspensory ligaments), sore and puffy knees, hocks, stifles, etc.
When I use it as a sweat, I mix Dex, liquid Furacin and DMSO. It makes a Furacin sweat MUCH more effective. Doc used to have me use 18 hours on and 6 hours off -- 18 hours on and 6 hours off over and over. Occasionally I would get a light 'scurf' but not a blister.
I made sure it was NEVER done over a liniment or other external product. The solvent powers of DMSO can make that a disaster. I've seen huge damage done by switching from a liniment or Iodine paint to DMSO. That is the only time that I carefully scrub the skin with a strong soap or detergent. Even then, I test it first on a small area without wrapping it.
I inherited several horses that were going to be scrapped because of injuries. Doc sent me several to re-hab because he did not have the time to do it and the clinic setting would be too expensive and not practical.
The 99% pure liquid (bought at a feed store) is what I use. I buy 4 oz. plastic dauber bottles (at my Vet clinic) and label each mixture in them. I have separate bottles of DMSO / Furacin / steroid (Dexamethasone or DepoMedrol) and for DMSO / Gentomycin.
I try to keep it off of my own hands. It tastes terrible and makes your breath smell like something crawled in your mouth and died. Prolonged skin exposure can give you 'blurred vision' which clears up within a few days of NOT getting it (or putting it) on your skin. Been there - done that. Some people and 2 horses I have used it on are allergic to it. My son gets physically ill if he gets any on his skin. He is also allergic to any Sulfa Drug and cannot tolerate any form of Sulfur exposure. DMSO is a Sulfur Compound.
Call a different vet! and find someone ASAP or take the horse to them.
"He does still have open wounds from where the fluid keeps weeping out of."
This does not sound good to me. If this was just stocking up, you would still have swelling but it should dent when you press on it. If it is not denting than you probably have a more severe inflammatory response going on. I would also be suspicious of cellulitis, as drainage is not a good sign!
If it is cellulitis than he needs antibiotics or that infection is going to keep spreading.
As for DMSO they are now recommending to use no more than 70% DMSO rather than 100%. Plenty of people still use the 100% but it causes skin irritation. Even the 70% DMSO will turn my skin pure red and make me itch like crazy, but I might just be sensitive.
My boss uses this at work "a mix of Dex, liquid Furacin and DMSO" and it did blister one of the horses, but I am not sure he took it off in a timely manner.
DMSO is also neurotoxic, but it does reduce inflammation during brain injuries, so something to keep in mind if you ever need to use it IV or in high doses.
How hard are you working him? Is it possible he injured a ligament or tendon? As that would also cause swelling and if he did hit a jump he may have scratched himself. Is it an actually scratch or is the skin developing pustules?
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