Sunday, January 1, 2012

Any Pet Detectives Out There?

Okay, I need your horsey advice! Loretta colicked again.

So, here is a quick synopsis of both episodes (one the week before Christmas, the other this past Thursday.)

Episode One:
  • I fed the horses late the night before she colicked, as we were out of town for the day- I usually feed my horses around 8-8:30 a.m. and again at dark (approx. 4:30 p.m.) I fed that night around 10:30 when we got home.
  • No changes in type of feed or amount, access to water.
  • She had a soft impaction, and her heart rate was 80.
  • Thoughts: perhaps being fed late created hunger and stress (gas?) or because it was late and cold, she ate but did not go over and drink as much water as she should have.

Episode Two:
  • I was out of town for two days, came back and fed as usual Thursday night.
  • Snow melt and huge rainstorm had created a huge lake surrounding the horse water trough. The thought crossed my mind- would they walk through that to get to their water?
  • Friday morning, I went out to feed and noticed immediately she was uncomfortable- stamping hind legs, walking or trotting off, similar behavior to last time but seemed worse.
  • I  brought her out, gave her a dose of Banamine.
  • Walked her over to the corral at  the ranch. She paced here (because she was separated from My Boy) and did poop once or twice.
  • Didn't  notice any stamping once we got her to the ranch corral (Banamine kicking in?)
  • Vet came out around 11. Took her heart rate, said it was 48 (last time it was 80.) Heard a lot of gas sounds. Gave me two options~ 1) Give her a shot of something for gas, feed her mashes, monitor her. 2) Sedate her, rectal exam, oil and water her stomach. He said considering her heart rate he'd be comfortable with option one. 
  • Vet took stool sample to do a fecal count, mentioned worms. Also mentioned the possibility of this being an ulcer.
  • I decided to try option one. Prepared a wet mash with senior feed (lower in sugar and I only had barley.)
  • Loretta ate up mash! Gave her another mash later in the day. NO hay.
  • Moved My Boy over with her at dark as a check-in with the vet said the stress of being separated might cause her to have more gas.
  • Fecal count came back good, no strongyle worms!
  • Morning: Loretta seemed fine. Gave her another mash and gave them a small amount of hay.
  • Brought Loretta out for a walk as the corral they are temporarily in is like a small round pen, and with the two of them there, they don't walk as much, just stand around together.
     Loretta has been on mashes and small flake of hay since then, have not noticed any more discomfort. Poor thing has lost a bit of weight since dealing with the colic and reduced feedings. 

    Future Plan~ If she should colic again soon, then vet suggested that she have a scope for ulcers. He recommended removing her from the rolled barley and putting her back on a complete feed, which I am going to continue to  make into a mash for her (they only get their grain and vitamins once a day at their night feeding.) I have been bringing her out and walking her every day, even if just for 15-20 minutes at a time.
    Vet also recommended putting her on probiotics, which are to help with digestive system.

    Questions~ Have any of you had horses be more colicky in the winter? She never showed signs of this in the summer. I don't think she seems like an anxious horse, but the vet said her age (4 1/2) could be an age for ulcers to happen. Any other advice you can offer would be helpful. I have to admit I can't look at her throughout the day (especially in the morning) without worrying I'll notice that she'll be in discomfort again! Loretta never tried to lie down or roll with her colic, I don't know if this behavior depends on the severity of pain or just depends on the horse and how they deal with pain.

    Also, if any of you have had horses that colic often, do you tend to treat them yourself and watch for symptoms to worsen before calling vet?

    I remember dealing with colicky ponies as a child, but have gotten lucky with My Boy and his iron gut (knock on wood!) he has not colicked.

    Ranch Girl


    Sares said...

    Hope your detectives can help solve the delima!

    Sonya said...

    My husbands horse (15yo QH) colics every time the weather gets below 40 degrees. He just stops drinking at all. We now know its coming and treat him with wet mashes at every feeding and electrolites to encourage him to consume water. Was very scary and we eliminated every other possible cause. I hope its something simple and you get her figured out soon!

    fernvalley01 said...

    I have had a few over the years that with changing temps , reduced water intale and had mild colic, Also had one who wro whatever reason refused to drink warm water (electric waterer)when it was very cold out and did suffer badly from colic. Depending on the horse and the symptoms I am comfortable trying banamine and monitoring unless or until the banamine seems ineffective (If I don't see marked improvement after and IV shot within 20 min)How is she for salt ? Probiotocs arte a great thing , my nieces horse (warmblodd ) would act like he was gonna die every time he had a little gas or upset , put him on Diamond Yeast (prebiotic brewers yeast )for a course of tx and he has been fine ever since . Good luck with this , again have you had her teeth checked? if she is not managing to maserate well enough it could affect digestion and excess gas

    Anonymous said...

    Winter colics are pretty common in my part of the world and are almost always due to reduced water intake combined with more dry forage (hay) as compared to grass which has a high water content.

    The solution is usually heated water - some horses just won't drink well if water is too cold - tank or bucket heaters, and adding a tablespoon or so of plain (uniodized) table salt to the feed, and making sure the horse has access to plain (white) salt blocks. I don't usually use electrolytes except where salts need to be replaced due to sweating as they can encourage more urination, which can increase dehydration.

    Ulcers are a possibility, but I'd bet on the water.

    Nuzzling Muzzles said...

    One of my horses colics constantly. Every little change, including changes in the weather, make her nervous, plus she doesn't drink as much as she should. She won't touch her stall water trough and will go all night without drinking, so I've started leaving her stall door open so she will drink from the outdoor trough during the night.

    I know that in her case it's usually gas colic, so I treat it myself with lots of walking, grooming and massaging to relax her, a tube of ProBios, bran mash to get things moving, Calm & Cool, some pain killer if necessary, and distractions to keep her from rolling. She usually recovers in a few hours. Knowing my horse's personality, it could be ulcers. If a horse were down and not responding to my usual treatment, I would call a vet.

    Fantastyk Voyager said...

    Unfortunately, I can't help you. Knock on wood- I haven't dealt with colic more than a handful of times over the many years I've owned horses.

    I worry constantly about my horses right now because my pipes are broken in the barn and we have freezing temperatures much of the time. My horses are on reduced water rations, plus I've begun feeding pellets in the mornings.

    I have heard that it's good to switch up feeding times to reduce the tendency to colic because then their stomachs don't start working automatically, expecting the feed.

    When my horses have had colic, it was usually a light case that I cured with walking and mineral oil.

    Hope you can work out a solution soon.

    Leah Fry said...

    Prior to being diagnosed with strongyles, Jaz colicked at the drop of a hat. He still tends to not drink enough, but we just add salt to his diet, keep the water heated, and on when it's super cold, I give him a bucket of warm Gatorade, or you can buy horsey electrolytes. Since I know he has a tendency to react to suddenly dropping temps, if I see him acting a little off, I may give him a light dose of Banamine and watch him. We also add water to his regular feed, cut back on forage.

    I was concerned when we brought them home a week ago that he'd get too much green grass, but he's been fine.

    The Homestead Maiden said...

    Did she ever colic with the previous owners?? Maybe ask them and see??
    My vet said a bunch of horses in my area aren't drinking enough water (because of the weather change) and they were colicing. So maybe it has to do with her not drinking enough water?? Hope that helps!


    Ranch Girl Diaries said...

    The woman I bought her from only had her for around 6 months, no problems. The guy she got her from said she'd never had any problems. I guess you never really know. Supposedly he'd "rescued" her from someone else, but she wasn't underweight so I'm not sure what her situation was. It's hard when you don't have a lot of history on your horse!

    Reddunappy said...

    Hmm I have heard of a lot of horses colicy when it is really cold.

    I have been feeding my mares Beet pulp, soaked of coarse, its low in protein and all the sugar has been taken out of it, and its only around 8% protein. The old mare,27,(she also gets senior feed) gets twice as much as the younger mares.
    I use about 6 cups of dry pellets(it varies with each bag, 4-6C) to 16 cups of water, soak overnight with cold water or for at least an hour with hot water.I end up with a little more that 12 20oz sour cream cups.
    I like it because it gets extra fiber and water into their gut, especially with the cold, and they really like it.
    I was wetting the senior, but it doesnt have the same fiber affect as the beet pulp.
    I.E. the old mare had been having watery stool, not diarhea, I tried Fastrack, and no difference. None of her feed had been changed for a year. I started her on the beet pulp, and within 1-2 days her stoop was back to normal.
    My belief is that the beet pulp fiber is digested more in the hind gut, where concentrates are not.
    Sorry for the book!! But I really believe in feeding beet pulp!! LOL

    Crystal said...

    I am lucky that I have never had a colicy horse since I have owned them (well my husbands once but that was a vaccine reaction) and we have them on grass and warm water and a salt block. Is it possible to give her more hay so she is eating more and never has an empty stomach? And have heated water. Otherwise good luck and hope you find the cause.

    Shanna said...

    I've had to deal with colic and ulcers in my herd. Typically they tend to colic in the winter and it's due to water intake. I've taken to soaking their grain in warm water to ensure they get at least some water. Turning the temp up in the automatic water helped too.

    Ulcers are a lot harder to deal with and diagnose. I originally thought my boy was colicing but it was a serious ulcer attack. When I talked with the vet, he said that banamine actually does more harm then good for an ulcer. My boy would lie down and roll or stand all stretched out to try and relieve some of the pain. I had to take him off all grain as the sugars and mollasses were causing the problems and feed him only grass hay and soaked beet pulp. My vet suggested that there be a "layer" of hay to cover the ulcer at all time until it healed. You can give your girl something like UlcerGuard to see if that cuts down on the pain; it's about $33 a tube and will last about two days if you are treating an ulcer and will last four days if you are "maintaining". Scoping is expensive so it might be beneficial to try an ulcer medicine with omeprazole. You can also try a handful of Tums but I'd try the omeprazole if you suspect it's ulcers and not colic.

    Good luck and keep us posted. I hate it when our "kids" are sick!