Lameness in a 2 week old foal... both legs on left side

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Calekio

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Last night my 2week old miniature foal came in from the field lame on his right, front leg. He'd previous been fine only an hour before hand because we'd been in the field checking him. Left him for the night to see if it was just a pull muscle or something like this.

This morning straight away i could see he was lame again... but this time front LEFT leg. Called vet and we carried him next door to the vets. When over there and walking it was obviously he was lame on both the front and back leg on the left side.

vet is mystified as to why though... his feet are a little warm but all 4 the same..., no heat or swelling in the legs, he is happy to flex them and will bear full weight on all except the left front leg which he is reluctant to put down properly. She scraped out his feet and no sign of any abcesses. His temperature is normal and she ran blood and no sign of any infection brewing (she was checking for joint/navel illness)

He is bright, active and very alert, but obviously in a bit of pain. She hasn't given him anything today, wanted to see if it got worse, better or stayed the same... 11hours on no change to him, except he is getting bored being coped up in the stable.

No sign of being kicked, or having bumped himself either and no wounds to be found.

Farrier is out tomorrow so will be getting him to have a look and he seeing vet again tomorrow as well.

So far... all we have is a lame foal... but physically he is fine and no reason can be found for him being lame...

Anyone able to shed some light on this? As obviously i'm still rather worried about him but we can't find the reason for his lameness!
 

kaykay

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I hate to sound scary but he probably needs put in antibiotics as fast as possible. I would bet money its joint ill. The key to joint ill is getting them on antibiotics as fast as possible before the leg is damaged and has to be flushed. Joint ill progresses FAST if you wait. They dont always run a fever right off with joint ill. I would call your vet and ask if you can go ahead and treat it as joint ill and get the antibiotics going today. Almost every time I have heard of a young foal limping its joint ill.
 
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Jill

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I would also suspect joint ill.

From what I've been told, if you have a lame foal, you treat it as joint ill unless/until you prove it to be something else.

Time is really of the essence.

Good luck!
 

Genie

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I think that giving antibiotics would be smart just to be on the safe side, because it won't hurt if they didn't happen to be required for whatever is going on.
 

Carolyn R

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We all may be jumping the gun, but joint ill is also the first thing that came to mind with me also. open chords and small pucture wounds could be a culprit.

Carolyn
 

Genie

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Joint-ill in the foal is usually a result of a blood-borne infection (septicemia), often associated with problems such as lack of the vital first milk, known as colostrum, without which a foal will have inadequate immunity to fight off infection.

Bugs invade frequently via the umbilicus, resulting in the dreaded navel-ill, where the umbilical stump goes septic. Abscesses that form around the navel may act as a reservoir of infection that seeds infection elsewhere. For various reasons, the bones and joints are particularly susceptible to infection.

Joint-ill or septic arthritis tends to affect foals between five days and four months old. It is characterised by one or more painful swollen joints and lameness. Diagnosis involves tapping the joint to prove that it is infected and taking X-ray pictures to check for bone infection. Scanning can also help to check for associated navel-ill.

Effective treatment frequently involves admission to an equine hospital for treatment with high doses of powerful (and often costly) antibiotics, which on their own would be insufficient without also cleaning the infection out of the affected joint or joints.

This is usually done by "through and through" joint lavage, which involves inserting needles into either side of the infected joint and flushing it through with several litres of sterile saline. This can be performed under general anaesthesia or under sedation in some foals.

Affected joints are usually repeatedly lavaged on alternate days until there is a clear improvement. The number of times that it needs to be done varies and, if successful, a foal may only need to have one such treatment.

The large joints of the stifle, knee and fetlock are the most commonly affected.

The quicker the treatment starts, the better the chances of controlling infection and restoring a functional joint, before it is irreversibly damaged with incurable arthritic change.

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I guess any of you can get this from the web but I just pulled it off for those that maybe would like to save some time.
 

HGFarm

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Yikes, sounds like joint ill to me too- don't waste a moment having the vet check for this- it needs aggressive treatment to get rid of it....

Good luck and keep us posted!
 

Calekio

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Missed this last night!

Surely if it was joint illness though it would have some phyiscal sign? Or show up on the blood test? (his white blood cell count was totally normal)

He's got no swelling, no heat and it doesn't hurt to handle the leg or bent it... only when he bares weight on it....
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(Please do correct me if i'm wrong as i'm only going from what i've read.. never had any experiance with it before)
 

Jill

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I don't know about the blood count. Anything I'd say is just a guess but wanted to bump this up for you and hoping your foal will be doing better soon.
 

kaykay

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We had one here and my vet didnt even pull blood just treated as joint ill with antibiotics. He said since i caught it so fast it probably wouldnt show yet in the blood which is why home antibiotics worked. Once they go septic (infection in the blood and joint) they have to be treated at a hospital and the leg opened up etc. After 24 hours on antibiotics he quit limping totally. He was on them 7 full days. The only thing my foal did was limp there was no heat or swelling or fever

Everyone has to do what they are comfortable with for sure. I just get worried every time I see a post of someone with a limping foal. Early treatment is the key to stopping it.

Is he still limping??

Best wishes for your foal
 

Calekio

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Well my vet doesn't want to put him onto anti-biotics unless she has to... something about risk with giving them to one so small and young...

He does seem 10x better this morning though... is still limping a little bit but not half as noticable and really only seems to be 'when he remembers! lol'

Still on box rest and vet going to see him again tomorrow though. Farrier also took a look and couldn't find anything that look out of the normal for 2 week old baby.. bit bent legged still but he wouldn't want to correct such a minimal problem at his age yet...

Fingers crossed we will continue to improve and it is just a case he's maybe taken a fall in the field.
 

Becky

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ANY lame foal here is treated as though it has joint ill whether proven by bloodwork or not. Antibiotics are started immediately and SMZ's are the drug of choice. I've treated them much younger than 2 weeks with no ill effects. Sure hope that's not what's wrong with your foal, but I would be highly suspicious.
 

Jill

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With so young a foal, if this is joint ill, by the time things get worse it really may be too late. We treated a newborn filly here with injectable Naxcel antibiotic as a preventative (she had needed 2 plasma transfusions). She had no complications and she's a ready to wean fireball right now. If SMZ's will do the trick, they are easily available, easy to give, and very inexpensive.
 

Genie

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Wishing you good luck with the foal.

I have not had the experience with "joint ill" but it seems that it is not to be fooled with and waiting can be a mistake.

I don't think it would hurt to relay the info provided by forum members, assuming that you haven't, and who have experience with joint ill, and the vet may reconsider.
 

Becky

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With so young a foal, if this is joint ill, by the time things get worse it really may be too late. We treated a newborn filly here with injectable Naxcel antibiotic as a preventative (she had needed 2 plasma transfusions). She had no complications and she's a ready to wean fireball right now. If SMZ's will do the trick, they are easily available, easy to give, and very inexpensive.
I've treated two foals this year for possible joint ill. One was a premature foal that had two plasma transfers. When he started limping on one front leg and running a fever at about 10 days of age, I immediately called my vet and he put him on Naxcel. After 5 days of Naxcel with no improvement, I switched him myself to SMZ's and Penicillin. In less than 48 hours, the temp was normal and the lameness stopped. I did the pen for 5 days total and the SMZ's for 10 days. He's fine and healthy and at 4 months of age, ready to wean.

I had another foal born a month ago that started showing signs of lameness in one back leg when he was about 5 days old. My vet was scheduled to come out and the day he was to come, the colt wouldn't bear any weight on his back leg. No temp and otherwise acted normal. When my vet got here, the colt showed no signs of lameness
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but my vet pulled blood on him. Bloodwork was relatively normal, except that his white count was 'on the high side of normal'. So we started him on SMZ's. He never showed any more signs of lameness and no temp. I went ahead and kept him on the SMZ's for 7 days. He's fine now and has never shown any more signs of illness.

My personal opinion is that any lameness in a foal should be treated as a possible joint infection and appropriate antibiotics used. Better be safe than sorry!
 

Jill

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My personal opinion is that any lameness in a foal should be treated as a possible joint infection and appropriate antibiotics used. Better be safe than sorry!
This is how I feel as well, Becky. With our filly who had a plasma transfusion and was on Naxcel, she never limped or appeared sick, but had a low blood count and it was just a preventative. Like you said, better safe than sorry. I know how attached I was to these foals from the first moment so we were proactive.
 
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HGFarm

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I had one a few years ago that was about a week old that got it.. and he had aggressive treatment from the start- dont remember the vet taking blood work either- it was apparent to her what the problem was.... it happened very quickly and if it had not been caught right away... as it was, it took a while to get him back on his feet- he got sick quite fast.....

He was on antibiotics for a while so I also fed him yogurt with live culture in it to help his digestion. He healed fine, never sick again in his life and you would have never known he was such a sick baby in the beginning.... It is hard putting them on antibiotics when they are so young but when you think of the alternative.....
 

kaykay

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I hope you dont think we are being paranoid or harsh but every time I see a post like this and the foal doesnt get treated asap it has a very bad outcome. Foals tend to be fine one minute and down and crashing the next. It can happen very fast.

Hospital treatment is very expensive and painful (they have to open and flush the joint in the leg) and the longer you wait the rate of survival plunges. Not to mention emotional stress!!

Every post I have seen like this one thinks the foal got kicked or hurt in the pasture and I can say in all my years on LB this has never been the case. It was always joint ill
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ours was treated with liquid SMZ. Our vet said that most (but not all) joint ill is e coli bacteria which SMZ's are very good at getting.

I know our vet says exactly what Becky posted. Any foal that limps is assumed to have joint ill and put on antibiotics immediately.

Sending good wishes to your foal
 

lotsofspots

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Ditto what everyone else says--JOINT ILL. Time is of the essence. I had a filly born three years ago with the same symptoms (only it was the right rear leg). It was my first experience with joint ill and I couldn't possibly figure out how it happened. I was there for the birth and dipped the naval stump immediately after the cord broke and this filly nursed up a storm right away. After IV plasma, joint flushings for two weeks and a month and a half of antibiotics (oh, yeah...and $3,500 in vet bills!), she was fine. Vets do not always know everything, and sometimes horse owners have more actual experience in these things! This filly was also x-rayed because I figured the mare stepped on her. I hope your baby is OK.
 

albahurst

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If joint-ill is caused by e-coli, perhaps an e-coli antigen within the first 12 hours of birth would prevent such an illness. Now, I am just thinking aloud here.

We did use an ecoli antigen this year immediately after the foals were born. The foals never got sick- not even the 'foal heat runs'.

Peggy
 

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