Thursday, September 22, 2011

Here We Go Again - I Slept In My Clothes

Last night was like Groundhog Day, and not in a good way.  Tuesday Pie was fine all day, and we went on a nice easy trail ride with Scout.  Yesterday, Pie seemed to be fine as well and he and I had a nice work session in the arena after the farrier visited - not too hard, but with some trotting work.  After I put him back in his paddock, he seemed a bit sleepy, but nothing more than that.  And he told me in no uncertain terms that his stifles hurt - both of them, although the right seems a bit worse.  I found out by touching the stifle joints - he made faces at me.  I then did some massage on the insides of his thighs, and the inside of the right thigh had some cramps.  I'm hoping the chiropractor can put that right, or at least better, on Monday.

But then, after bring-in time and feeding - Pie ate his dinner and a lot of his hay - he went down flat in his stall again - same groaning/wheezing and gas - if anything he looked worse than he did on Monday night: here's a video when he's flat - note the head position, rough breathing and bared teeth, all of which are signs of pain. He was also producing a lot of gas, which he had on Monday night as well. And here he is when he's lying sternal - out of it and rough breathing. I cut out of my art class (I'm taking a life drawing class) and headed to the barn again, calling the vet on the way.   But then when I went in his stall to take his temperature - he hasn't had a temperature that we know of throughout these episodes - he was startled and got up and his demeanor pretty quickly returned almost to normal and he started eating hay.  He also urinated, and later pooped, although the amount was fairly small and the manure balls were the oblong shape they've been taking over the past month or so.  He has also been dropping from time to time without urinating, which can be a sign of abdominal pain.   I called the vet and she said to give him one gram of bute (he'd had one already in the morning for his farrier visit) to see if that would work like it had on Monday.

I think that, although he isn't showing any of the classic colic symptoms - pawing, looking at the belly or rolling - that he's in pretty bad pain during these episodes and is just a pretty stoic horse.  Stoics are hard - they don't always tell you how bad they're feeling but it's clear he's feeling pretty bad when he has these attacks.

I checked back later and he had stopped eating and, although upright, looked fairly miserable.  So I had the vet come.  She said his elevated respiration was a sure sign of pain, as was his depressed state.  No fever was evident and he had good gut sounds.  His feet are cool and he has no worrisome digital pulses. She gave him a cocktail of pain/anti-spasmodic drugs and also did a blood draw for a variety of tests - we may have some results today.  She also did a rectal exam - there was a fair amount of manure up in there.  The troublesome thing is that she said she was somewhat worried by what she felt in there - a number of hard nodules that did not appear to be fecal matter.  I also told her that I had noted his manure balls becoming smaller and less round and more oval recently, which could mean he's got some sort of abdominal constriction or partial obstruction going on.  It took a while for the drugs to make him more comfortable, which the vet didn't like, but then he started nibbling hay again and was completely himself again.

I left him in his stall to rest.  The vet wanted me to check on him later when the drugs would have worn off.  By this time it was about 11 p.m., so I just slept in my clothes - my husband's out of town - and set my alarm for 2 a.m.  When I checked on him then, he was flat again but seemed to be breathing more normally (for him - he tends to be a snorer), and got up immediately when I came in the barn.  He seemed OK, so I went home and back to bed.  This morning there were three small piles of manure - same somewhat hard, small, oblong balls.  He wanted his breakfast and ate some hay.  He's not drinking as well as I'd like, either. I'd describe him as about 90% this morning - almost OK but not quite.  I put him out to graze with the geldings and will check on him during the day.

The timing connected to the vaccinations could be a pure coincidence or it could mean that the systemic stress of the vaccinations tipped him over the edge on some pre-existing on oncoming abdominal condition.  There have been no feed or supplement changes, other than another hay delivery - from our same supplier who produces and cuts his own hay and none of the other horses seem to be having a problem.  The lack of a fever means it probably isn't a specific reaction to the shots themselves.  The timing after eating could indicate ulcers, but the gas probably doesn't.  (We've got him on a 4-day course of Gastrogard just to rule that out and also compensate for all the meds he's received.) All very worrisome coupled with the changes in his personality and manure over the past month or so.  The back and stifle soreness could also be related if he's holding himself stiffly because of abdominal pain.  This also could or could not be related to the tying-up episode he had a while ago, which seemed at that time to be related to a mild attack of laminitis due to spring grass.  No sign of foot problems at this point and I'm keeping him off the mid to late afternoon grass anyway as a precaution, and shortening up his grazing even further on days where temperatures are below 40F at night.

I'm hoping the blood work will give us some more information.

21 comments:

  1. Scary stuff! I sure hope he gets better quickly.

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  2. Poor guy. Keeping you in my thoughts and hope he gets to feeling better soon.

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  3. Oh dear! I know you must be worried, but it sounds like you got the vet involved in time. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you and Pie.

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  4. Kate--I know how it feels to be worried and struggling to figure out what's wrong--that is so hard. That having to get up and check on them at 2:00 and dreading they'll be worse just takes it out of you. My thoughts are with you. Its sounds like you're doing all you can to sort it out. But the variety of his symptoms are sure confusing. I know its not likely, but did you discuss the possibility of stones with the vet?

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  5. I hope you have some answers soon, Kate. There is nothing worse than not knowing.

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  6. Gosh, poor guy! That video was scary, I have to say. Thank goodness he has you as his caregiver!! Positive thoughts coming your way that he feels better soon and you discover what is causing his discomfort.

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  7. Poor Pie! I hope you figure it out soon so you can treat it. That is scary not knowing what is causing him pain.

    Get better soon Pie!!

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  8. I know how it feels Kate, not knowing, I hope he feels better soon and you can get to the bottom of it.
    Have you considered colonic/hind gut ulcers? You can treat with sulcralfate,corn oil helps and there are various supplements and lots of info out there in cyberspace.

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  9. Oh no, poor Pie! Abdominal pain is the worst :(

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  10. You must be just sick with worry. I hope you get some answers soon. Poor Pie.

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  11. Here's hoping Pie gets over this soon! When you say, breakfast, what is it that he is getting other than hay? Perhaps straight hay would be a good thing if he is in gastric distress.

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  12. Oh no! Poor Pie. I hope you'll be able to get some answers soon.

    ~Lisa

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  13. Oh no! Poor Pie...hopefully you can get some answers from the tests. Fingers crossed that he improves.

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  14. I hope Pie is improving today. What a summer for so many people.

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  15. Oh Kate, I'm so sorry. Colic is scary stuff! And, if I'd theorize, that's exactly what it sounds and looks like to me. Classic abdominal pain. Did your vet offer to tube him with warm water and mineral oil? Sounds like a possible impaction to me. You could also start feeding him a very wet slurry of bran mash daily, with some vegetable oil and
    maybe some applesauce for flavor. The extra fiber and fluids couldn't hurt. When he has these episodes, I'd also recommend removing his hay...no need to add fuel to the fire if impaction is a possibility. We've found too, that a half dose (500#) of Banamine paste works much better at controlling smooth muscle contractions than does bute; but never mix the two drugs. If it's something not too painful, the half dose will usually suffice. If not, it's time to call your vet. It's worrisome too, that his symptoms are controlled at least somewhat by the meds, but they return. That's not a good sign. Does he ever ingest sand? Have you tried probiotics? Have you tried a product called Bio-Sponge? This last product is made by Platinum Performance and we've had good results with it. It's a 60 cc paste "intestinal absorbant". Actually does work like a sponge, soaking up impurities present in the gut and carrying them out within the intestinal tract. Good product. Might be worth a try. You have to purchase this thru your vet, but it's not expensive. Also comes in a powder form for top-dressing. If it occurs again, you might have to take him to your local surgical center for more extensive diagnostics. I don't know what your financial situation is, or if it's even a possibility, but exploratory abdominal surgery is a lot cheaper when it's scheduled than when it's done as an emergency. Just something to keep in mind. I'm sorry you're having to go through this, but hopefully it will resolve. Colic is so very scary. I hate it. Will keep you two in my prayers...

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  16. Oh, Kate, poor Pie. I hate to see him like that and I know you had a rough night. I will be thinking good thoughts for he and you. I hope he is doing great today and you get to the bottom of what is going on.

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  17. This is pretty scary, nothing worse than not knowing! Hope you figure it our soon.

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  18. Scary stuff. I'm hoping the blood tests come back with some sort of answer and he is on the road to recovery soon.

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  19. Oh boy, those videos are tough to watch. I can only imagine the worry you must be going through. Sending good thoughts your way.

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  20. I, too, could hardly watch your videos. I do not want to imagine how I would be feeling if I were in your shoes. I hope you get some answers, soon. Until I heard from the vet, I think that I might only be giving him minimal food and watered down, just in case.

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  21. Those videos are heartbreaking and scary. Poor baby.

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