Sunday, October 14, 2012

The good, the bad and the ugly

Well folks, it looks like Cool really is sick.

I started to get suspicious on Friday when I went to feed him in the morning. I had mixed some Anihist that I picked up at the store with his feed. He had eaten it Thursday night, but Friday morning he turned his nose up at it. Thinking that maybe it was the new breathing/cough supplement, I gave hims some fresh grain. This he ate, but not with his usual excitement and vigor. Cool has never really "attacked" his food like Emmy or Johnny, but he is still a horse that never misses a meal. Later, I was taking him out to the pasture. when he started jogging next to me in anticipation of going outside. His little prancy-jog only lasted for a few steps, but as soon as he went back to walking he let out a cough...a big, wet cough. I had still been taking his temperature, and on that particular day it was up a little from his clockwork 99.2 to 99.3. So, I called the our veterinary office to see if I could leave a message for our vet to call me. Our veterinary office has four vets that work out of it, but my favorite (and the one we always use) is a wonderful woman who also owns a young Warmblood and is competitive on the dressage circuit. Not only is she very calm and down to earth in even the most dire of situations, but since she is also a competitive rider, she tends to bring a different perspective to the table when it comes to dealing with equine athletes and it's a perspective that I appreciate. I also really love her because she understand that different people are in different financial situations. If your on the fence about an expensive treatment or a diagnostic procedure, she will literally sit down with you and cost out exactly what the vet bill will be. If there is a less expensive solution, she brings it to light and she will never sell you something that your horse doesn't really need. She's the first person to tell you  "well, you could put him on such-and-such, but honestly, I don't really think that it does anything more than make you feel better." When Emmy was lame last winter she walked me step by step through the cost of x-rays versus nerve blocks and which one would be a better diagnostic procedure for my money and cost me less while still giving me answers.

So anyway, I called up the vet's office to talk to her and of course, she is on vacation this week!!! The receptionist told me that she would be back in the office on Tuesday and connected me to her voicemail so that I could leave a message for her about Cool. At the time, I was just wanting to discuss his symptoms with her and get her opinion on what to do next. I told the bf my concerns and and that I had made the phone call to chat with our vet and he kind of just rolled his eyes (he always thinks that I'm over reacting) "You know where my checkbook is" he told me.

Friday night I started feeling really sick as well. I gave Cool his wet evening hay and grain (which he ate willingly) and then decided to skip taking his temperature in favor of resting since I had to work all day Saturday, outside in the cold.

Saturday I went to work and left the horses in the hands of the bf. It was seriously cold that morning with an overnight frost. Everything was ice when I went out to start my car and head to work. I was feeling like death again that morning so I had slept until the last possible minute before getting out of bed, leaving the feeding and tending to of the horses to the bf. When I got home Saturday evening, I took Cool's temperature again. 99.4...another decimal up from normal. He seemed to be eating alright though and he was snotting a little less I thought. I put the horses outside while I limped through cleaning their stalls. In the meantime, it started to sprinkle outside. The temperature had warmed up considerably though and the horses had blankets on so I wasn't worried about them getting a little was a warm drizzle anyway. I brought everyone in, changed them out of their damp blankets into dry sheets and tucked them away for the night.

This morning was a totally different story. While Cool seemed interested in his wet hay, he turned up his nose at his wet grain. I had been soaking his grain with the Anihist, making it into a mush which he seemed to eat readily. Today, he didn't even look at me when I dumped the feed in his bucket. Instead, he stood motionless in his stall picking small bites and slowly chewing his wet hay. Thinking he was again, tired of the Anihist, I gave him some fresh dry grain, which he did eat, but again, very slowly. While he ate I took his temperature...100.6!! Still within "normal" horse range but high for his usual body temperature. I pulled off both horses sheets (since it was now warm outside) thinking that maybe he was just over blanketed and hot? While I cleaned his stall though I knew that something was definitely wrong with him. Usually, he is a P.I.T.A to work around...he tried to walk over the wheel barrow, he hits you with his tail...all just an annoyance. Today, he stood like a rock, just picking at that wet hay. I cleaned both stalls and took his temperature again. 100.8...what the ---! It just kept going up. By 10:30, he was up to 101.9 and I mixed him up some bute to try and bring his temperature back down. He actually ate the bute/grain mix, but by that time he was just standing in his stall...and he looked sick. I walked him outside for a little grass and he barely picked at the blades. Cool doesn't want grass? This IS a sick horse.

2pm today his temperature was at 102.2 but he seemed to be much more interested in the grass and so I took him out to graze. Emmy, I'm sure has already been exposed to whatever this is, but I bleach washed the pasture water trough and all of their buckets anyway just to be safe. While out grazing, Cool actually started coughing...multiple wet coughs in a row now with some snot blowing intermixed. He is now blowing chunks of white/yellow snot out of his nose and is no doubt, sick. I'm about to head out again to check on him and take his temperature for a fourth time today to see where we are at. Needless to say, the vet is getting a phone call tomorrow. I hate to not have our regular vet come see him, but I'm not sure that I should wait until Tuesday for her to even be back in the office and possibly Wednesday for him to get an appointment. Until tomorrow, I will keep Buting him and monitoring him with supportive care. Fingers crossed that he feels better soon and that Emmy doesn't get really sick also! If there is a bright side to this situation (which I believe there always is) it would be that he's got some time to recover before having to make the move to a boarding barn, and at least with a veterinarian diagnosis, we can determine what he has and if he and Emmy should wait a few more weeks past November 1st to move. I would much rather have this happen now than at a boarding barn where it puts other horses at risk. The other good news is that my horses have been isolated for months, so whatever they have is just between them. My primary concern is obviously for the health of my horses, but I am deeply concerned for the health of others horses too. Having once had Emmy be the victim of a lack of respect for the well being of others horses and the spread of illness, I know how it made me feel and I would NEVER want to put that on anyone else and risk the health or safety of their horse.

More updates to come.


**EDIT: Took Cool's temperature at 6pm tonight and he was down to 102...not really the progress I was hoping for but he's eating, drinking and pooping. I will check on him a little later and give another update.

**EDIT (again): Between 6 and 9pm Cool's fever broke! By 9pm he was back down to 99.5 (yay!) and even pinned his ears back when I gave him some wet hay (yay normal Cool!) when I checked him at 5:30 in the morning he was actually a little low and down to 98.6. The outside temperature has dropped some and its pretty windy, so I blanketed him with a stable sheet and gave him some warm mash. I'll check him again later this morning. Bf and I decided that I will call the vet today and see if someone can come out and look at him as he still has the snotty nose (and probably the cough but I didn't hear him at all this morning) and we want to get him checked out to see if he needs an antibiotic and what the recovery period for him should be. Emmy seems alright still (knock on wood) but who knows if she will end up with it, so I will continue to monitor her also.


  1. Could be pneumonia - you might not want to wait for your regular vet to get back. Anything over 101 degrees is a red alert for me.

    Also, you might get better fever reduction with Banamine, but check with your vet.

    Hope he's feeling better soon.

  2. Thanks Kate! We are going to call the vet tomorrow morning to come check him out. It does sound like pneumonia could be a possibility.