Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Update on Dawn's Swollen Neck

I didn't like the look of the swelling on Dawn's neck yesterday evening - the swelling was larger, hot and sensitive to the touch, and Dawn seemed somewhat uncomfortable, despite the bute in the afternoon.  I was also concerned that,  if the swelling got any bigger, it might begin to impinge on her windpipe or throat.  If the swelling were due to an infection like cellulitis, that can get out of hand very quickly. I've never seen cellulitis except in the legs of a horse, but this looked like something similar to me. So I called the vet, who came a couple of hours later.

Dawn is always very cooperative for the vet, which comes in handy at times like this.  Since infection was a real possibility, the vet drew blood.  Dawn's temperature was still normal, and she was bright-eyed but uncomfortable in the swollen areas.  The skin irritation/flakiness was probably due to a reaction to the venom in the stings, whereas the swelling could be due to an overactive immune response to the stings, although the fact that it popped up several days later made it more likely that it was an infection.

The program is bute twice a day for several days, hydrocortisone creme on the irritated skin, hot packs on the swelling when I can, a paste of baking soda on the swollen areas overnight and oral antibiotics (Uniprim once a day).  I'm glad I had the vet out, as the bloodwork report this morning showed an elevated white cell count and also changes in the relative composition of types of white cells, both of which indicate infection.  Oddly enough, the bloodwork also showed that Dawn was dehydrated, although that wasn't evident on examination or by her demeanor, so she's also getting electrolytes twice a day.  The vet recommended shaving the affected area to improve the treatment with hydrocortisone and also the baking soda paste, but I opted not to do that as our flies are just too bad for Dawn to have no hair to protect her.

This morning, the swelling was much reduced - her skin is actually pleated in one area where it had been especially swollen - I guess the skin stretched a lot and now has to shrink back to normal.  She ate her breakfast happily (bute less so - I got a protest of scraping of teeth on the stall wall) and went to turnout smeared with hydrocortisone creme - no flyspray on her neck as I didn't want to further irritate the skin, although I think the creme will scare off the flies.

This afternoon, the swelling was largely gone, although now the whole area on the side of her neck - most of her neck down to her shoulder and then extending down to her chest - was pleated, and there were two small areas where the skin was gone, just at the front of her chest and in the area along her shoulder blade where the pleating had been this morning.  I didn't do the hot packs, as the swelling was mostly gone and it was just too hot. I tried putting the baking soda paste on, but she objected violently - it clearly hurt - so I stopped and hosed it off.  I put more hydrocortisone creme on the whole large area, and put Swat around the edges to try to keep the flies off.  One of the possible complications of cellulitis is sloughing of the skin - I hope this doesn't happen as it's a large area and managing that size of open wound at our barn may be difficult.  She was comfortable again after I was done and started eating her hay.  I'll see how she is in the morning, and probably call the vet to get some advice - hoping a visit to the vet clinic doesn't end up being required.

14 comments:

  1. Im glad that the swelling went down!

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  2. What an ordeal...poor sweet girl! Could the pleating on the neck partially be due to the dehydration? Hope all is well tomorrow morning.

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  3. Lori - that's what I thought at first, until I saw the areas where the skin had broken - it seems more like the skin has been stretched and now isn't properly moored to the underlying tissues. It may be breaking down, although I hope not. We'll just have to see how she is tomorrow.

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  4. Poor baby! Sounds like she has a great nurse.

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  5. It sounds like you've got a good treatment plan going. I hope Dawn gets better and better every day.

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  6. Poor Dawn! I'm glad you're on top of it and she seems to be improving.

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  7. Poor Dawn--my oldest son had two run-ins with paper wasps this summer, and both times missed work due to severe swelling after the sting. Doctor said some people are just "lucky" regarding swelling...guess that goes for horses, too! The only thing that worked for him was the baking soda paste, and we made him start carrying a tube of sting medication with him to work so he could rub it on right away. It does seem to help lessen the swelling if you can treat it as soon as possible.

    I found a paper wasp nest right next to where the horses like to stand in the shade in the afternoons. I sprayed it, but thought it was kind of ironic that the horses could stand right next to it--tails swishing--and the wasps left them alone. As soon as I was within a few feet of the nest I started getting dive-bombed. I wondered if they could see the can of wasp spray in my hand!

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  8. Poor darlin! Glad you got it under control

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  9. Poor Dawn. I don't know if you're interested or not, but I keep a tube of Ichthamol ointment (from a people pharmacy) in my little equine medical box. That is the BEST stuff for swellings (it stinks, but it sticks ;o) Sara got into some bees awhile back and we put that on her right away; she was - thankfully - just fine. We ended up calling a beekeeper to come and get the bees [here] . I wonder if you could tie a strip of dryer sheet on/along her mane to keep the bugs at bay; works great on gnats but I'm not sure about the other bugs.

    Just a thought: Dipping the tube in a little bit of molasses might help the medicine go down a bit easier (that's also how we deworm and you can't believe how easy it is that way *laugh*). Hope she's lots better soon!

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  10. I'm surprised the baking soda hurt, I guess it stings worse than the wasps. Hope she heals without losing skin! That sounds like it would be a real nightmare.

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  11. I am glad that you were able to get the vet out to see Dawn. I did not know about those complications of cellulitis. I hope this is not the case for her. I swell up a lot from stings too, so I avoid wasps and such like the plague!

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  12. Vinegar is a good remedy to remove the stings, too. I got into a nest of yellowjackets years ago. They nest in the ground and flew up and under my shirt (though they also stung me through my jeans). I had welts all over and a shower and good dose of vinegar (topically applied) took care of the stinging.

    I can also vouch for ichthammol. Wonderful stuff. Draws venom from spider and ant bites, too.

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  13. Oh, I hope Dawn gets better. The reduction in the swelling certainly sounds like a good development. I've never seen cellulitis on a horse; hope she doesn't have to deal with it. I am glad to hear about the ichthamol ointment; I need to get some.

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