Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Clues About Pie

We took the oil out of Pie's evening feed last evening, and voila!  no digestive pain whatsoever, despite having his Banamine reduced to one dose in the morning.  And today, when the vet came to do a blood draw to recheck his liver/bile situation (poor Pie's becoming quite the pincushion), she commented on how bright, alert and interactive he was - in fact at this point I'd say he looks great.

And there are more clues . . .  Those of you who've been reading for a while may (very vaguely) remember that Pie had what (in hindsight) was an identical digestive attack after p.m. feeding on January 31.  We blamed that on him being misfed another horse's dinner, and that horse was getting different feed.  But we were all perplexed at how acute his symptoms were considering the very small amount - one cup - of different feed he'd been given.  Here's the clue - the wrong food was a high-fat feed (Ultimate Finish) that Fritz was receiving to help him gain weight.  There's the fat again - that's what caused the problem even though the amount was small.  Then Pie had another attack on February 8, and none that we've noticed between then and last week, although there was the mysterious tying up episode on May 11 - I'm still not sure what that was all about - he was in severe pain and sweating profusely.  That may or may not be unrelated.

So, looking back, it's clear that he's had this liver/bile duct problem all along, but we didn't know because he was able to tolerate fat in his diet - he's been getting cocosoya oil all along - unless it was too much - the winter episode where he was fed extra fat - or if his system was somehow otherwise disturbed, as with the recent vaccinations.  The pain he's experienced seems to be because the fats aren't being broken down properly by bile in his small intestine, and end up undigested in the caecum - hence the pain and large amounts of gas, and his feeling somewhat better once the gas passes through.

Or at least that's the theory at this point. We'll see what the bloodwork shows and then go from there, but if we can at least make him comfortable again by removing the extra fat from his diet, that will be progress.


  1. Good detective work. Thank you for sharing your discovery. One never knows when an anecdote may become one's reality!

  2. Kate;

    How much cocosoya oil is being added to Pie's diet right now ? Are there any other sources of fat being added in Pie's diet currently ? How is your grass quality up there right now ?

    Sorry for the questions. I have been following along quietly and I'm quietly thinking things through.


  3. Well that's progress. When the blood tests come back hopefully, they will pinpoint the problem. Glad he's feeling a little better.

  4. Great progress! Your comment "Those of you who've been reading for a while may (very vaguely) remember that Pie had what (in hindsight) was an identical digestive attack after p.m. feeding on January 31." is a great example of how a blog can be a resource to track illness and behaviour issues.

  5. Jason - Pie had been receiving the same feed a.m. and p.m., although we don't have good observations of his reactions to the feed in the a.m. since he's out in pasture.

    His feed has been the same a.m. and p.m. - 1/2 lb. of CPI Equibalancer - it's a pelleted protein/mineral/vitamin supplement - plus about 2 tablespoons of cocosoya oil plus a dose of U-Gard pellets plus one dose of a specialty magnesium/chromium/selenium/vitamin E supplement. He's currently only on the pellets and the antibiotic, with no oil or supplements.

  6. Kate, Pie's story and symptoms actually remind me of a problem my son has with his saliva duct. Every now and then, the right side of his face would swell up and he would be in terrible pain. He first had it when he was only 4 and it took ages to find out what was wrong. The thing is, it only plays up when his immune system is down. Just wondering if Pie gets these attacks when his immune system is compromised.

  7. Jason - sorry, here are the rest of the answers -

    no other fats in Pie's diet

    grass here is still profuse and fairly lush due to our weird weather in July and August - cooler than normal - he's been coming off pasture in the early afternoon to avoid the sugars in the p.m. grasses. So far no signs of foot heat or digital pulses.

  8. twohorses - it's possible that when his immune system is under stress - say, from vaccinations, that it has caused some swelling in the liver, which could constrict the bile duct. Or it could be inflammation in the bile duct. Or it could be a stone in the bile duct or in the intestine itself.

  9. Sounds like you have indeed found the problem! Yay for you and Pie, hope he is more comfortable now . Aslo I have wanted to ask, why were you feeding the oil at all? is he having difficulty with holding wieght? or was there another reason

  10. Kate, I so hope ypu have solved it, and this is the end of Pie's discomfort.

  11. I have always prescribed to keeping things simple when it comes to feeding and treating horses. We forget that in the wild they survive and thrive with a life of feast and famine with no extra food additives or oils and vitamins. Sometimes we end up doing harm when all we want to do is give our animals the best lives possible.
    Good for you delving deeper into why Pie has been suffering in pain so much. Perhaps just a simple diet of grass hay, and a salt/mineral block will be the best for a healthy Pie?
    I wonder what his previous owner, the Rancher, would be feeding Pie if he still owned him?


  12. i've been following along all the while too and i'm so happy you found such a simple solution to his pain. it just goes to show that even something as helpful and safe as a little oil can cause a reaction in a horse. i feel sooo relieved for pie and you. it is a horrible thing to witness your beloved horse groaning in pain and he's such a cheerful horse who has been such a great partner for you, i want him to be happy.

    i think i'm gonna go have a good day now just thinking about this!

  13. Hmmm, that is SO interesting!!! Way to dissect it down.

  14. I as very pleased to hear this. Laughing Orca has hit the nail on the head, although I do feed extra in the winter, my 5 only get grass, in the summer. Despite the amount of work they do.
    Winters different of course, but again in the wild they would live off next to nothing.
    I am really glad you seem to have solved the issue, lets hope it stays solved. Good luck!

  15. interesting stuff - adding extra fat to horses diets is the most common thing to do for weight gain - I wonder how many other horses have similar issues?

    Good for you for keeping such detailed notes (blogging helps!)I'm sure your vet loves dealing with you because you are so organized and willing to learn.

    Here's hoping that Pie continues to improve...


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