Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Summer Hibernation Soon Begins

Not much has been going on around here since the heat has set in.  I've mainly been trying to manage the flies and extra manure from feeding the horses more to fatten them up.  Thursday morning I looked out the window and saw Lostine on her side in the barn aisle while all the other horses were eating.  Colic.

She was heaving in pain and grinding her teeth.  She got up and went right back down a few times.  All I had for the pain was Bute, and I administered some microbials as well, but when she wouldn't get back up to walk, I got scared for her.  I usually help her through her chronic gas colic episodes myself, but at her age, she looked like she was ready to give up the ghost.

It suddenly occurred to me that this was a week day morning -- not a weekend or holiday or evening.  What a miracle.  So, I called the vet.  No answer.  I left a message, and paged her a couple of times, and still got no response.  A couple of hours later, the vet's assistant called me and questioned me about Lostine's condition.  She was still down, heaving, and grinding her teeth.  She said she'd call the vet and get right back to me.  I waited and waited and waited, sure my horse would be dead by the time they fit me in for an emergency appointment.

By the time she called back, Lostine was up and standing over a food barrel, guarding the hay so that some would be left for her by the time her stomach settled down.  Her breathing had slowed, but she still had pain in her eyes.  The assistant said that she would have to cancel all of the vet's morning appointments in order for her to help my horse, because she was on the other side of the valley and it would take her a while to drive to my place.  I informed her that Lostine had some improvement, so the vet's help wasn't as urgently needed.  The assistant made it sound like they already kicked things into action for me, so I said that was fine.  If Lostine was back to normal by the time the vet got here, I could buy some Banamine from her at the very least.

I walked Lostine around, and the vet arrived about an hour later.  She could see that Lostine was in pain because she kept curling her lip.  She watched her to see if Lostine would eat, and she wouldn't.  She asked me to feed her some alfalfa instead of grass, but she wouldn't eat that either.  So, she washed her mouth out, thinking that perhaps she was rolling the Bute paste around in her mouth and refusing to eat because of it.  Didn't make any difference.  So, she gave me the option of tubing her with oil or just giving her a shot of Banamine and some saline solution.  I questioned her about the effectiveness of the oil, and she felt all it really does is soothe the digestive tract.  It doesn't actually move sand or push air bubbles out.

I know I wouldn't care to have a tube shoved down my throat, especially if the payoff was so small, so I opted for the more conservative path.  The vet instructed me to keep her in a stall without food for the rest of the day, and then slowly begin feeding her again.  If she wasn't showing an interest in food by evening, I'd have to trailer Lostine to her house and get her tubed with oil while hooking her up to an IV.

She also told me that her vital signs and gut sounds were good.  She didn't sound like she had any sand in her belly -- just gas.  So, she suggested lunging her at the trot to get the gas bubbles moving along.  That worked like a charm, and as soon as I finished lunging Lostine, she began picking little blades of hay up off the stall floor.  She was eating by evening, so all was well.  I got my tube of Banamine for the next episode.  I know exactly what Lostine's problem is... she eats way too fast, even when I lock her up and she knows I won't let her steal any other horse's meal.  What scares me the most is that she just doesn't handle pain as well as she did when she was younger and stronger.

The vet said I do a good job of keeping the horses from eating their hay off the sand.  I told her the problem is that they eat manure off the sand, so I have to clean it up multiple times a day before they get to it.  Lostine is the worst about eating poop.  Midge, my Corgi, is also going through a phase in which every time I walk her outside, she devours every type of poop she can reach -- dog poop, horse poop, coyote poop, rabbit poop, bird poop... it doesn't matter.  She's just obsessed with poop, and no amount of behavior modification alters her crap snatching.  There's something about animals getting older and feeling the need to eat all day.  Then there's Stewie the puppy who I have to chase around the house to get him to eat his meals.  Worrying about dogs and horses has kind of been the theme of the week for me.


Crystal said...

Thats so scary! I have luckily only ever had to deal with a mild colic from a vaccine, mixed with hives was an unhappy pony for a while.

Cheryl Ann said...

ALL my horses have colicked except Scout and Gigondas. Oh, and Lucille..."knock on wood". Sunni...twice. Quad...twice. Colic and then a twisted intestine killed Cali. I have rubber maps under their feeders so they won't eat sand. I give them powdered psyllium...sigh...I honestly don't know what else to do.

I'm at the point now that if another one goes, I'm NOT replacing him or her. This is it.
Cheryl Ann

Dreaming said...

I find myself wanting to eat all the time, too! Yup, getting older!
Glad the vet got there. I like that she gives you informed options. Also glad that all is well.
Do you have a slow feeder for her? I used nibble nets for my guys. Pippin would tear through his hay and that slowed him down... a bit.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm glad she pulled through.
Apache eats fast, too. I use a mesh net slow feeder for her hay. I fill the bag wth a couple flakes of hay, and it will last her all day, as she is only able to pull out a few strands of hay at a time....much like a horse does while grazing naturally.


achieve1dream said...

Yikes I'm glad she's okay!!