Need Ideas (Very Long and sad)

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Well-Known Member
Mar 24, 2011
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Pipe Creek, Texas
23 year old Stallion wonderful health... until

December 2nd Sunday: Lethargic, not interested in anything except his alfalfa, said no to feed, coastal and water. Temp was 102.4. Gave two ccs of banamine, couple hours later seemed a bit better temp was almost normal and he started picking at his grain.

December 3rd Monday: Temp at vets was 104.6 Gut sounds normal. Blood results normal no elevated white cells. Was given banamine and antibiotics IV by vet and also given a very large amount of fluids because he was starting to dehydrate. Sent home with instructions for banamine 2x per day, antibiotic shot 1x per day, ulcergard 1x per day. She didnt know what was wrong but was trying to cover all bases. Unloading from vets he would only come out of trailer walking backwards( he knows this trailer and has never had a problem with it). Once in grass proceeded to nibble on grass and walk backwards more. Was also holding head at a tilt. If he was made to walk forward he would go in circles. Let him loose in his pen and the circling or walking backwards continued. I was told to only give him alfalfa and she would be out tomorrow becasue by this time I was getting panicky and wanted more tests run ASAP. He also didnt seem to be seeing very well.

Dec 4th Tuesday: Vet came out watched him nibble on his alfalfa said good sign and his fever was being controlled with the banamine. i asked her to run these tests, EPM, West Nile, Encephalitis(sp?), Cushings (her idea) and full blood work up including selenium, calcium, iron, etc etc. I was panicking because to me this was looking more and more like some type of brain issue and this was not a horse that I was willing to take any chances with ( he was my first and definately my heart horse).

Dec 5th: 4am he was walking around and around and around his pen extremely fast as if someone was pushing him to move on. He would only stop if i got in front of him and held him with his face burried in me. His mouth was covered in foam. I called vet and told her to get ready for him because he was getting worse. I rode in the trailer with him as he was not able to keep his balance on his own. He was trembling and didnt seem to know what was happening. Unloading at vets I had to hold his head while someone pushed his rear end and it REALLY seemed like he was blind by that time. Even just standing he was making more and more foam. I do not remember all that they gave him but I do remember they gave him more fliuds with DMSO(?) this time I believe this was what caused the horrible garlic breath. He had no fever. A couple of hours later he FELL flat out and just layed there, mouth part open eyes about half open with constant rapid eye movement alost like the movement you would expect when sleeping. After two hours of him just laying there I asked her if there was any chance that he could make it and she said probably not so I decided that I could not do this to him anymore and asked her to put him down. After he was put down she explained that he was showing signs of rabies and strongly urged me to agree to have him tested because I would need the shots ASAP. We are still waiting for results of all tests besides EPM which showed that he had been exposed at some time in his life but it was not what was wrong. Please if this sounds familiar to anyone please tell me. I believe she saved some blood in case we thought of anything else to test for. My shots are ready at the hospital in case rabies test comes out positive but i just dont think the foam he was making looked like the drool usually associated with rabies. I am scared because I have several more horses on my property with his pen being butted up to two other pens. No other horses have gone off feed or running fevers and its been 10 days since this all started. My vet says no to toxin because of the fever, and she thinks virus because of the fever with no elevated white count. I am open to hear any ideas no matter how far fetched they may be. Sorry for the book here but i figured the more info the better.
OMG I am so sorry! What a horrible ordeal.

I have no idea but I can take only very small parts of your description and relate to it;

The part about walking fast etc. reminds me of my pony who was in horrible pain from liver failure. He couldn't be stopped unless I did what you did and get in front of him and hold him, so that part I'm sure was pain.

The foaming part and being unsteady I relate to a horse I had with toxic poisoning from eating a plant in Florida.

The first part sounds like a horse I saw with sleeping sickness, going in circles with head tilt.

So you see, this can be anything at all. There are so many things out there that could have caused what happened.

You obviously did every single thing in the world to save him and again I am so sorry you both had to go through this terrible thing whatever it was. Don't ever second guess yourself. You did the right thing at the right time.

Please accept my deepest condolences.
Not sure what happened for you - but just two weeks ago a standard sized horse at the barn I board at that was 25 yo had these almost exact symptoms and the outcome was that he had had a stroke. They didn't know it until after he had been put down. I'm so sorry. He would cock his head to the side and drool but he also would periodically lift and curl one front leg until he'd almost fall over like he wasn't aware that he needed to put it down. The vet said right at the end he was having seizures.
I would have said stroke except for that fever he had at one point--unless he had some viral infection and then a stroke followed. It wouldn't be liver failure, which can cause neurological symptoms--that would show up on bloodwork.

A brain tumor perhaps? Rabies definitely possible --rabies can cause foaming at the mouth.

What a terrible way to lose him. I am so, so sorry!
I have had a few experiances similar to this, one a case of bacteria menegitis were the horse did actually become blind for a time and completely paralyzed, we spoon fed him for two days, he was in a sling for 10 days before he regained enough coordination to stand on his own again...his vision did eventually return....another was a mare with West Nile...she circled constantly or fell over stiff, just not the foamong part. Tetanus shows symptoms like you describe also...., I lost a 34 yr old mare to suspected brain tumor tha showed the staggering, blindness and foaming when she had seizures but would return to normal....I think all this proves though is something was going wrong in his brain (and you already know that)and a lot of things can cause similar symptoms.

I guess if my vet suggested rabies as suspect I would vaccinate everyone and not wait just to be on the safe side!
I have not seen these symptoms in horses, but have in dogs caused by encephalitis, caused from liver problems because of toxins and ammonia buildingup in the blood stream. Have you gotten blood work back on the liver yet? Only problem is the fever, maybe two different things or as VEt says a viral infection. I've had a horse with EPM that had to be put down, but she never acted blind or foamed at the mouth like with encephalitis. Was the horse passing manure, or drinking water on his own? I've heard they won't drink water if it is rabies, not sure if it's true or not.
Do you have oak trees on your property? Lots of acorns this year and acorns are poisionous to horses. Condolences on loosing him. He knew you cared.
I'm so sorry you are going through this and that your poor little guy is suffering. Prayers to you and him.

I have seen similiar in old horses nearing the end. The foam can be from not being able to chew and digest feed coupled with congestion in the lungs and an increase in saliva.

Hopefully the vet can help him, you may need to consider his comfort and work with your vet on end of life care. I'll hope I'm wrong!!

I'm so sorry you lost your beloved boy
You and the vet did everything you could for him. {{{{Hugs}}}}
I am so so sorry this happened to you
I'm glad he's not in pain any more. This summer my mare, Peanut, got Anaplasmosis. (Anaplasimosis in horses can also be called Ehrlichia equi which is caused by a deer tick bite. (Here are the symptoms in horses: fever, depression, decreased appetite, limb swelling, ("stocked up"), jaundice, reluctance to move/weakness/wobbliness, small red dots on gums. Peanut was showing signs of colic and not interested in food or water. Later she got swollen in her face and neck. She was in terrible pain. She was sweating really bad and going diarrhea. The vet arrived and gave her a shot and left us with these capsules (she required 20 in the morning and 20 at night) She was on that for three weeks until she was fully well again. I'm not sure if this could be a possibility. If you don't catch anaplasmosis in time, then the result is death. Another horse in my area got it and it didn't get caught in time. The horse's blood all of a sudden turned black and it died right there. Really sad story. I'm so sorry that you lost your stallion. Hope everything works out. *hugs*
OMG I'm so very sorry you lost your sweet guy.... I can't be any help with what it could have been,

fortunately we have not experienced anything remotely close to those symptoms.

You proved to him you were his true trusted friend by ending his suffering....(((HUGS)))

again I'm so sorry for your loss
I am so very sorry for your loss!

Did you have a necropsy done? That often helps with diagnosis. Sounds like he may have had encephalitis, but there can be many causes of that.

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Don't know what is up with my computer, keeps deleting my posts, I'll try again, two illnesses come with all the syptoms you described, including fever. EEE, WEE, or encepilitis. I'd call my vet and see if there are blood tests for either. If it is EEE, WEE you will need to vacc your horses as it is spread by skeeters. Enceph., is sometimes caused by bacteria, virus, or fungi.

Edited since I had only put bacteria before as a cause of encephilitis.
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Riverrose-encephalitis can be caused by various bacteria and viruses. It is really just a symptom, but some illnesses do have it in the name.
Ohmt, you are correct, it can also rarely be caused by fungus. I deffiently sounds to me like some sort of enceph.
Encephalitis was my first thought, I had it in a cat, but never a horse. I cannot imagine what you have gone through, this must really be your worst week and I feel for you. I hope you do find out what was wrong but know this, even if it turns out to be something that is treatable, you still did the right thing, at the time, for your boy- we have a huge responsibility to them and you lived up to it, well done.
I was bound and determined to get him through this but when he was like that I just couldnt do it to him anymore. I didnt think to add that the first day of treatment he pooped a decent amount in trailer on way to first vet visit, it was somwhat dry but a normal amount. As soon as he got back home that day he went again a normal amount and a little more moist. He did not go again but vet said that she was not surprised because he did not have another normal meal after that, he only had small amounts of alfalfa per vets advice. No he never seemed to drink water but he did urinate a couple times I believe due to the IV fluids, the urine color was normal. No more info at this time. Thank You for your thoughts. I am going to try and put a picture up, I apologize if it doesnt work right...

"Bar B Showum The Gold" 4/26/90 - 12/5/12

But always Barney Boy to me
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Ok I will try again. A photographer friend took these about 2 months ago she was wanting to try horses for a change. I am so very thankful for these last photos, even if he is a fuzz ball in them.


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