Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hugs For AJ Please!

**8-15 Update... AJ finally seems to be improving! For the first time since this all started, he's shown an interest in his grain and ate about half of what he's normally fed. He's still drinking really well and keeping himself fairly hydrated and his manure is starting to look a lot more normal. So far there's no heat in his hooves and no other indications of laminitis, so I hope we have avoided that. He got his last dose of injected antibiotics tonight, but he'll be on the SMZs for 7 more days. Thank you so much for all the well wishes you sent his way!**

**8-14 Update... As it turns out, AJ wasn't vaccinated for PHF. I looked back through all my records and my horses were never been vaccinated for it here in NC. It isn't recommended for this area but I was sure both of my horses received the vaccine. My dad's horse didn't get a PHF vaccine in the spring either because the vet didn't recommend it to them either. We've all decided both of the boys will get a vaccine next year. Even if it doesn't help prevent them from getting PHF, maybe it'll minimize the symptoms at least. My parents have had horses at their property since 1991 and none of the horses have ever had PHF. I'm surprised we made it this long but I'm upset that it happened to AJ when I can't be there with him!

There hasn't been much of a change with AJ since last night. He's still not eating and has extremely wet manure, but he's not as cold as he was last night and doesn't seem to be dehydrated anymore. I imagine it'll take a while for the antibiotics to work enough for him to feel better but I was hoping we'd see a bit of improvement in him this morning. He'll get another small dose of Banamine around noon and hopefully that'll help him until the meds can really kick in. I'm a bit more worried about him now that I know he didn't get the vaccine in the spring but hopeful he'll be feeling better soon.**

**10:30 Update... the vet is quite sure AJ has Potomac Horse Fever. AJ received some Banamine and a 60cc dose of double antibiotics. He'll get two more shots of double antibiotics and is on SMZs twice a day for 10 days. The vet thinks we caught it in time and she thinks he'll make a quick, full recovery. I'm concerned about laminitis, but she thinks we caught it in time, although it'll be important to keep an eye on his feet for the next couple days to make sure. A great lady my dad works with at the horse farm is going to horse sit while my parents are gone. She agreed to take care of both horses, give the shots and SMZs, and keep an eye on AJ while they're gone. It's tearing me up that I'm here and he's there with such a potentially serious situation, but hopefully he's feeling better tomorrow and on the road to being his normal self again. I'll get an update from my dad in the morning... hopefully it's a good one.**

**8:30PM Update... the vet is coming out tonight. Possible diagnosis is Potomac Horse Fever. He was vaccinated in the spring, but apparently the vaccine isn't always successful, especially after 6 months. Send hugs to AJ please!**

Original Post:
I'm back from Michigan and I had a really nice time. It was great seeing my family and friends, and I think AJ was happy to see me too. I want to post some pictures of AJ and my trip, and I also have some other news to share, but something odd is happening with AJ and I wanted to give this topic its own post.

First, though, so you can see how sweet and precious he is, here's a picture from Thursday when I took him for a quick ride. :)

I flew home on Sunday and visited AJ shortly after arriving and all was well. He looks incredible too... my parents have done a fantastic job with him. He was eating and drinking normal, sucking his tongue, and seemed like a happy boy.

Everything seemed fine until Wednesday night, when AJ didn't finish his grain (he gets Equine Senior). He seemed slightly lethargic but nothing seemed really wrong. He was still perking his ears up at things, eating cookies, and he was eating hay, grazing, and drinking the same as he always does. I've been having so much trouble with Lilly not eating her food that I wasn't too worried about him because he seemed pretty much normal otherwise. We left his food in his stall and I went back out later to check on him and the grain was gone. It's possible that my dad's horse got to the grain, but AJ was happily chomping on hay. I went out one last time that night around midnight before going to bed and he was still eating hay. (My dad feeds them a ton of hay...)

My dad fed the next morning and AJ ate all his grain except for maybe a mouthful or so. I went out a little bit later to saddle him up and go for a ride and when I called to him from the barn, he came running up from the pasture to see me. I saddled him, rode him, and put him away without noticing any issues. Other than seeming a bit cranky when my dad's horse was close to me, he acted like normal AJ.

That night, however, he wouldn't touch his grain. He tried to steal Justus' grain, though, (he gets Equine Adult) and I had to push him away so he wouldn't eat it. He was still eating hay and we'd seen him out grazing, but he still seemed a little "something". He wasn't off enough to make me worry, but I could tell he wasn't quite normal either. We started to wonder if maybe he was tired of eating the Equine Senior since he seemed more interested in Justus' food, but he didn't have a big interest in cookies either and wasn't sucking his tongue after eating them.

Friday morning, my dad said he didn't really eat much grain again and just went over to his hay instead. My plane was leaving that afternoon so I flew back to NC and waited to hear from my parents about how dinner went that night. My dad called before dinner and shortly after I got home to let me know that AJ now had some pretty bad diarrhea. He's never had solid "road apple" type manure, but now he was passing what looked like cow patties.

I was really starting to get worried so I hopped online and started doing some research but didn't really find much information other than things I knew it wasn't (change in diet, dewormer issues, etc). We had decided for dinner we would try giving him a little bit of the grain Justus gets to see if changing it up would help, but when my dad called, he said AJ still didn't want his grain.

I had my dad run out and take his temperature and it was 100.6 degrees. On the high side of normal, but still normal so I suggested we take away the hay and limit AJ to grass only for the night. For breakfast I didn't want him to have any hay or grain either, just grass.

When I called this morning to see how things went, my dad said he still had diarrhea but he offered him a handful of grain and he gobbled it up. He gave him a couple cookies too and AJ sucked his tongue after, which was the first time he's done that since Wednesday morning. He went all day without hay at my request (they have a really nice pasture with good grass to eat) but tonight at dinner he didn't want the small bit of wet Senior my dad offered him and his manure was still really wet. He ate a couple handfuls of grain that my dad fed him by hand but never sucked his tongue and became disinterested in the grain quite quickly.

As weird as it sounds, he seems better in the morning and then gets worse during the course of the day and by evening doesn't have much interest in food. I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out what could be going on. He has access to his stall and the pasture 24/7 and he's with Justus the whole time too, and Justus seems to be his normal self.

Anyone have any idea what might be going on? Slightly lethargic, no appetite for grain, diarrhea, but still grazing, drinking, eating hay, and acting perky at times? No elevated temperature, respiration, or pulse and there hasn't been a recent change in diet or hay either. I looked in his mouth in case maybe he was having a tough time chewing, but I couldn't see anything and poking and grinding things didn't seem to get a reaction either. I even checked him for a bean in case he was having trouble that way... that was before the diarrhea showed up, though.

My parents are leaving for vacation on Sunday and they have a fairly horsey neighbor that looks after the animals while they're gone but we were hoping he would be feeling better by then. It's a terribly inconvenient time for him to be feeling under the weather. Vets are virtually non-existent in their area, but I may have to try and find one to come out and do blood work or something.

I'm tempted to fly back to Michigan so I can be with him while my parents are gone!


  1. I would have a basic blood panel drawn - he might have a little infection or even have something like low thyroid, or it could be teeth or even an ulcer. Older horses often have some digestive issues since their systems don't work as well. 100.6 isn't really a temp to be concerned about. It could be he's in the early stages of Cushings and would benefit from some treatment for that.

    Sorry not to be able to offer more help - I love the senior horses.

  2. I'm sending all my good energy to Michigan tonight and some to NC as well. Hopefully it's something easy and treatable. Hugs hugs hugs to you both!

  3. Hugs for AJ! You guys did everything right and caught it early. Jingles for a speedy recovery!

  4. So glad you figured it out! Sending best wishes for a full and speedy recovery. I've debated the Potomac vaccine, but haven't done it because it's not very effective.

  5. Lots of hugs for AJ! I'm so glad you caught it early and are treating it. PHF is very treatable and I've seen lots of horses recover from it without a problem - we used to live 5 miles from the Potomac River. I'm sure AJ will be just fine. And hugs to you too for being such a good horse mom!

  6. Thank you for the hugs and well wishes everyone. I can't believe this is happening to him... hopefully the treatment works and he doesn't end up with laminitis. I'm pretty worried about him and it's even more difficult because I can't see him for myself and be with him. I hope he's feeling better soon.