Monday, November 17, 2008

Sick Shorty

Went to Les' house in the afternoon to help him paint the laundry room. We got the whole room painted, two coats on the trim, and called it done to dry a while.

Went outside to feed, and found D's horse Shorty laying down on his side. He was barely breathing... Les got him upright, and put his grain in the bucket. Shorty walked over to it, but didn't eat. We put him in a paddock by himself, and he laid down again. Crap!

Les hooked up the trailer to the truck while I walked Shorty in-hand. I got Shorty to poop a little bit, but it looked really painful when he did. We drove him around a while, and got a little more poop, but when we'd stop his feet on the ground, he'd try to lay down again.

Called D, and adventured on a 5-hour drive & stop rotation around the county. We'd load him up, drive him around, unload, walk in-hand, load, drive, repeat. The cowboys tell me the driving around "usually rattles the colic loose." I wasn't convinced, but he's not my horse, so I couldn't say much. Their regular vet was out of town, and not taking calls.

By 9:30pm I was exhausted, having been up since 4:30am for Chewie's appointment, and after having a very full busy day. I suggested a call to my vet in Victoria, and we could all drive up there together. D resisted, and didn't want "another vet working his horse. He'd be fine." I suggested we drive to my house, where I had some Banamine paste. Give Shorty the paste, and then drive him back home. They agreed, which confused me. They didn't want to drive to the south end of town to a vet's, but they'd go to the north side of town (farther away) to my yard for medicine. Hmmph. Arrived at home, gave them the whole tube. They gave Shorty one dose of Banamine, and headed back home.

Sunday morning, I called Les to check on Shorty. No good news. When they got home, he looked like he was improving, so they called it a night. Les got up Sunday morning early, and found Shorty laying down, again. I called every vet I knew in Victoria, nobody wanted to treat the colic call, or they were on vacation. Les found a vet in Bay City (ER horse hospital), and they agreed to take him. D said, "Do what you've got to for him, even surgery. I have to do something at church today, but go ahead." Again, I was puzzled.. D rode in the trailer all night Saturday, refusing to leave Shorty's side. But church calls Sunday morning, and he wouldn't even come see the horse. Hmmph. Whatever!

I drove to Les' house, and we drove to Bay City. The news was half-good, but of course not great. Shorty had a normal pulse rate, slightly elevated temperature, but cooperated so well with the appointment, the vet was optimistic. He was incredibly dehydrated. They gave him a shot of something to relax the stomach cramps, took some blood samples, tubed him with mineral oil. I've never seen that before - up the nose into the tummy. YUCK! The vet chose to keep Shorty for a day or two, wanting to see him urinate two or three times on his own before releasing him. He believed it wasn't a twisted gut, but rather an impaction. We got back in the truck, and left the little guy behind. I didn't get to see the vet try to "clean him out" from the back-side, something I thought I might see. Les figured the vet did that right after we left, and didn't want to scare me with the examination.

I have learned a lot about colic, now... perhaps more than I wanted to. At least if it happens to my horses, I will know some of the basics. I have an idea what things to do before calling a vet, and I also recognized I will call the vet early rather than late. Had we called on Saturday night, we might've prevented the dehydration, and possibly prevented the ER trip Sunday.

Need to restock my first-aid medicine kit with another tube of Banamine. Glad I had it, even if it only brought Shorty a brief relief.

1 comment:

SunnySD said...

So scary. We had a bad experience not too long ago with feed & what the vet things was a mild case of gas colic. I'd started them on a pelleted feed, which they'd been eating for a while with no adverse effects. But I learned the hard way that with grain with additives, you need to watch how much water they've had, and if they haven't had enough, don't feed it. It breaks down MUCH quicker than actual grain, and since it has a vitamin supplement in it, it can cause problems. In the space of about 5 minutes we had 4 horses showing signs of colic. Saturday evening, and of course the usual vet was out of town and the on-call vet was small animal and didn't want to venture an opinion on what he initially thought might be grain poisoning.

So we kept them up & moving whenever they wanted to lie down while we tried to reach either the regular vet for a phone consult or the next nearest horse vet (who's 20 miles away). By this point the two older mares were looking more comfortable and the youngsters weren't trying to lie down any more.

They were all back to normal in about an hour, but it felt a LOT longer while it was happening.

We took some of the grain in for testing, but haven't heard anything yet - regular vet's considered opinion was that if they didn't have access to water readily and ate while somewhat dehydrated (farm owner had shut the lot in the morning so he could get to the corn bin without them "helping" and not let them back in after he was done - grrr!) the nutrient content would have been a shock to their systems, kind of like us overdosing on dry, powdered Gatorade.

I'm still leery of feeding any more of it though - they'll be getting whole grain (introduced slowly) rather than pellets when they start getting grain again this winter. Not sure what I'm going to do with the 150lbs of the other still stored.... If the test comes back clean, mix it with the whole grain in small amounts, maybe.

Hope Shorty comes out okay!