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Sunday, May 24, 2009

The vet said his prognoses is poor.

Well it seems there is nothing in the pasture making Foxsun sick.

Foxsun really looked like he was improving once I shut the gate to the pasture. He seemed to be gaining weight and was very alert. Last week he started going down hill. The phenylbutazone paste (an anti-inflammatory) was making him feel better and giving him a better appetite. I started him on it myself and wasn't giving it to him often enough because I was under the impression, for some reason, it was bad for long long term use. I noticed swelling around his sheaf and girth area and I thought it was the pigeon fever back again and for that you can only wait till the abscesses are ready to be drained.

This is a photo of the swelling looking between his forelegs. It looked like a pigeon fever abscess at first but later didn't feel and progress like one.

Vets say you shouldn't give antibiotics before the abscesses rupture because that could drive the infection internally, which is harder to treat and can be fatal. I cleaned his sheaf to see if that helped with the swelling and then decided to wait and see for a day or two. Thursday I decided the swelling didn't feel like pigeon fever and must be something else. We decided to take Foxsun back to the vets Saturday morning. Friday we were out of town till late, and when I went to give Foxsun his evening feed I was met with a very sad sight. He was very depressed and hadn't touched the feed I gave him that morning. His senior ration was still in a perfect pile in his bowl. I was concerned he couldn't even get in his horse trailer to go to the vets so at 2am I gave him two grams of bute which made him feel a bit better the next morning.

Before loading him I pushed some baby carrots in his mouth and he ate them. Encouraged I then picked some fresh grass and alfalfa which got his juices flowing enough he tried to nibble some of his senior ration.

The vet was very worried about him. He gave him the once over and told me the swelling was edema and listed the things that could cause it...none of them good. I asked him what he would do and he suggested drawing his blood and running some tests. Hearing that Foxsun decided that would be a good time do pull his 'dying horse routine'. His head went down to the ground and the vet said he looked like he was 'checking out' and listed all the things that Foxsun was doing that indicated he was on his very last legs. Some of the dying horse signs that I remembered the vet pointing out were pinched nose labored breathing and shaky legs. Foxsun had it all down to a T. I pulled Foxsun's head up and told him to knock it off which he did because he's a very obedient horse. The vet drew his blood as I tried to explain that Foxsun always over reacts to the slightest illness or discomfort. I was in denial but when the vet took the test tubes into his lab Foxsun cheerfully snacked on baby carrots. The vet came out and busted him with his mouth full of carrots. When I took Fox back out to his little horsemobile he looked around taking in the sites and sounds as alert as a two year old race horse, almost.

Back in his office the vet said judging by his massive weight loss and everything he'd seen, he said without seeing the blood work, he thought (when I pressed him) his prognoses was poor and he'd call me later with the lab results. He was worried about liver damage and other scary things. He gave us an antibiotic and a big tub of powered bute to take home. It seems that the discomfort that Foxsun was in was preventing him from eating and he needs more phenylbutazone, 1 to 2 gms every 12 to 24 hours. I was giving him 1 to 2 gms every 24 hours and skipping a day if he seemed OK. I also believe it was also psychological in part due to the fact he was separated form his old cow wife and everyone else.

Once home we gave him his meds and the key to the farm. As I led him out of the horse pasture I could feel him getting excited in his own way as he plodded along. I took him off his lead rope and told him to go where he wanted to.

At first he didn't show any interest in grazing but thought he try a little nibble for old times sake.

I took off his halter and declared him a free horse to roam where he pleased. He thought after a lite snack he'd try his hoof at being a 'shade tree tester'.

Here he is testing the shade under big poplar near our house. He decided the shade was too narrow.

Then he remembered when as a toddler William would sometimes play with his pasture gate leaving it open and how much he enjoyed having a walk about and snoozing under the old apple tree.

There was an electric wire that wasn't hot, left over from when the meadow was pastured last fall. The deer have torn it down in most places. In this spot it's still up preventing him from enjoying the full shade of the tree. You can clearly see his swollen belly hanging down.

After he had a nap near the apple tree he ate for awhile along a ditch bank and ended his day fast asleep in the shade of the big cottonwoods.

The vet called and told me the results of the blood work. I was a hospital lab tech years ago and even drew and ran one of my own horse's blood when he was ill, but I didn't hear most of what the vet told me because all I wanted to know was 'is my horse dying'? I remember he said the prognoses is not as bleak, his white count is up and his red count down. The doc says Foxsun is anemic and his body maybe trying to wall of an infection. So the antibiotics are needed. He suggested I buy a product called Red Cell and needs the B vitamins. I asked him to send me the lab results. I probably will think of some questions by Tuesday. The main thing is to keep him comfortable and happy so he eats and puts weight back on.

This morning I felt the edema in his girth area and I'm please to report it's almost gone. The swelling further back is still there, but not as bad as it was. He wanted me to itch his belly and shoved me to make me do it. A very good sign. He's still a free roaming guy (days only) and if it wasn't for the fact he spends most of the time sleeping, I'd be worried about founder. He won't eat his senior ration with the meds in it so I have to make them into a paste and syringe them into his mouth.

You can see how much weight he's lost from his normally sturdy Morgan frame.

I just love his lovely old face.


Kara said...

Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that Foxsun is doing so poorly. I wondered since you hadn't posted in a while. I hope the antibiotics work clear up what ever is causing him to be anemic. At least the vet didn't say he had liver damage, did he?

Lea and her Mustangs said...

Arlene, I am so sorry about your dear old friend. Its so hard when they don't feel well. I got the paperwork to do your compliance check. I leave in the AM for TN to visit my sister a few days and then will be home and will get in touch when we can come down. Bob is only working 2/3 days a week so will be looking foreward to coming.

Cheryl Ann said...

Oh, gosh darn! I, too, am sorry that Foxsun isn't doing well.

Linda said...

He looks so good in your pictures. I wish someone could give you a clear-cut answer to his problem so that you know what you're dealing with. He's a good guy.

arlene said...

The vet said he didn't think he had liver damage. If Fox had damaged his liver last fall that's when his liver enzymes would have been off. Now he could have liver damage yet have normal liver enzymes.

It looks like this is still the pigeon fever and it maybe causing internal problems. It seems he is anemic and thin because he has been off his feed because of the pain and discomfort.

He's bright eyes and bushy tailed today so I think he's on the right meds.

Pony Girl said...

Wow, what an ordeal. I hope that it is sorted out and the meds start working soon. It must be so frustrating to want to help your horse, but not have an exact medical fix. Did the vet say it was pigeon fever, based on the blood work? How old is Foxsun? Anyway,I sure hope he's on the mend soon. He's such a handsome guy. Keep us posted and hang in there! :)

arlene said...

Pony Girl, I just saw your comment. Foxsun is 23. The vet doesn't think the infection has anything to do with the pigeon fever. I kind of think it does because late summer he lost weight about a month before the abscess's appeared. He'd always been a very easy keeper up until then. He's eating now and seems very alert (for him) but he doesn't seem to be gaining any weight.