My opportunities continue to learn about all things medical concerning equines.
For the past several days, Pie has been very much NQR. At bring-in time, he mopes in the back of his stall, when he isn't pawing his shavings into big piles, or tossing his head, or stretching. At bring-in time, the horses have their dinners waiting in their feed bins - piece of evidence one. Within about 30 minutes, Pie feels better and starts eating his hay - piece of evidence two. But he's remained very grumpy and uncomfortable being touched, and is getting increasingly girthy - piece of evidence three.
Here's what's changed in the past week or so - Pie, due to his grass sensitivity, has to stay in the pen while Red goes out to the pasture earlier. Pie joins him later. But, although Pie stays settled, there is some calling and some anxiety on his part that Red has disappeared - piece of evidence four.
Two days ago, Pie started drinking a bit less than normal, and his manure was less profuse than normal and a bit drier than normal - piece of evidence five. Yesterday things were a bit better after I gave him some electrolytes and probiotics - more manure and not as dry.
Tonight Pie completely refused his dinner and hay - this is a first in the years I've owned him - piece of evidence six. Pie is normally a food hound, so this was very atypical behavior. Coupled with the continued pawing and discomfort, a call to the vet was warranted.
Ulcers. We haven't scoped him, but that's what I strongly suspected and the vet who came out on the emergency call confirmed. Discomfort in the time around grain feeding is a very common ulcer symptom, as is generalized discomfort and grouchiness. And ulcers can cause horses to progress to generalized colic because it's uncomfortable to eat and drink. Just think of all the horses that are blamed for bad behavior and acting up just because they hurt . . .
Pie got a tube of UlcerGard tonight (this is the same as GastroGard, just sold OTC for ulcer prevention in a lower dose - use 4 doses (one tube) and it's the same as one tube of GastroGard. Another tube tomorrow - no grain at all for several days - then 1/2 tube for two days, and then 1/4 tube for 30 days. He can continue with his grass turnout - he's up to 30 minutes and will move to 45 minutes tomorrow and within about 10 days I hope he'll be out full day. If he improves, we know for sure. If he improves, then the lower dose doesn't keep him comfortable, we may have to do the full 30-day treatment with the full tubes (megabucks, but oh well, that's horses). If it doesn't work, then back to the drawing board.
But based on how quickly he perked up after his tube of meds - his ears were up and he was happily eating his hay - I think we've got it figured out. For Pie to be friendly in his stall is something that hasn't happened in a long time and it was delightful to see. As usual, I'm a bit slow on the uptake . . .
And oddly enough, this is the same colicy behavior he exhibited in the fall of 2011 before he was diagnosed with and treated for EPM (and subsequently Lyme). I wonder if the paste that was used for EPM treatment at that time by Pathogenes (the formulation has since changed) had an element that could have soothed ulcers, since Pie's colic symptoms vanished the moment he started his 10-day paste treatment for EPM . . .
And oddly enough, I would have predicted that Red, with his high-strung temperament, would have been more of a candidate for ulcers - what with stall rest, long pen confinement, etc. But Red's an "emoter" - he expresses his feelings openly - there's never any doubt about how he feels. Pie is more stoic, more reserved, and perhaps that means that he internalizes stress more than Red - who knows? The mystery of horses . . .