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Discussion on Small Pony Diarrhea

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Charles Thomasson
New Member
Username: Charlesj

Post Number: 1
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Monday, Jan 12, 2004 - 10:31 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My daughter out-grew her first small pony (hunter/jumper) about a year ago. We have close friends who live in South Carolina who we sent the pony to for their use with their smaller child who has also now out-grown the pony. He was returned to us about two months ago with chronic diarrhea. Our friends said that he has had diarrhea for SIX MONTHS, but just assumed that it was simply the way his digestive system worked (even though it was normal for the first six months). This pony was healthy and had normal bowel movements when we had him before and I don't believe that it's just part of the way his system operates. We have him on the same diet that he performed well with before and have done worming, blood work and fecal testing, with all tests coming back negative, including parasite, salmonella, clostridia and cryptosporidial. His stool is firmer (but still not close to normal) in the morning and much looser in the evening (is this a clue?). Our vet's latest advice is to give him a 1/4 cup of Metamucil with each meal for a week (2x daily), in case he has picked up any stones in his digestive system that could be irritating him and causing the diarrhea. The Metamucil doesn't seem to be working.

Our vet is now recommending either antiobiotics or steriod therapy.

Call me impatient, but I want to know what is causing this instead of trying blind treatment after blind treatment.

The pony is 9-years-old and is only 11 hands. I was brushing him last night, and you could hear his stomach churning. Even with all of this going on, his temperament is normal and he seems healthy in every other way. He is out in the pasture on fescue grass during the day and in his stall at night. He gets one cup of Seminold Horse & Pony Pellets in the morning and at night, and a pad of timothy/alfalfa hay at night. I had his teeth floated, too. (Vet bill to date: $482.95.)

Is this pony suffering? I need some help!!

Please advise.

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Donald W. Goddard
Member
Username: Gafarm

Post Number: 26
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Monday, Jan 12, 2004 - 1:15 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Our old QH had the same problem for about a year and we were unable to find the cause until I started to notice that it seemed to get better right after worming. We had his fecal sample tested again (about the 4th time that year) and it showed tape worms. These frequently do not show up in a fecal test. The vet had us worm him with a double dose of Strongid Paste wormer. That did clear up the diarrhea for a couple of months but then it returned. The vet felt he must have been getting re-infested with the tape worms but out of a herd of 15 horses it didn't make sense that he was the only one having the problem?? Then on one of the "natural remedies" groups I belong to they said to feed coconut macaroons to cure diarrhea! I figured it couldn't hurt so we tried feeding 3 or 4 crumbled in his feed at night and it worked! Maybe Dr.O can explain why that worked but it's supposed to be an old "home remedy" for diarrhea. We just continued from that point on to do at least one yearly worming specific for tape worms.
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Charles Thomasson
Member
Username: Charlesj

Post Number: 2
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Monday, Jan 12, 2004 - 10:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Here's some additional information:

I called and asked for the reports from the pony's blood and fecal work and a couple of items that were never mentioned by our vet seem to stand out to me. On one report, there was a test titled "CPK". I don't know what this means, but the reference range was 100 to 300 and our pony's results were 1,671 (High). And on another "vetscan" report, there was a test titled "CK". For all I know, this could be the same thing as "CPK", but the acceptable range was listed between 120 and 470, and our pony's results were 1,392. Again, these results were never mentioned by our vet, but something seems out of whack. Does anyone know what these mean?

Thanks!
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Nicole D Lopez-Pruitt
Member
Username: Npruitt

Post Number: 7
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, Jan 12, 2004 - 11:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Donald:
Were those coconut macaroon cookies? And if so, where did you buy them? Or did you make them yourself? My pony has also had intestinal problems for the past two years, and I am willing to try anything. Thanks

Nicole
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: Mrose

Post Number: 153
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Monday, Jan 12, 2004 - 11:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Donald-do you continue to feed the maccaroons? If not, for how long did you feed them? I'd love to hear a professional Opinion (calling Dr. O...) on this.

If I start feeding cookies to the horses though, I'll have to beat my husband off on the way out to the barn!
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Donald W. Goddard
Member
Username: Gafarm

Post Number: 28
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 - 12:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yes, just the regular macaroon cookies you find in the grocery store. We fed them every day for about a month and then just gave them for a few days when ever we noticed his stools were looking a bit loose again.
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Donald W. Goddard
Member
Username: Gafarm

Post Number: 29
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 - 12:22 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Here is a page that will help you understand your blood work a little better.
http://shady-acres.com/susan/cbc.shtml
I copied the following from this page:

CPK - refers to creatine kinase (also called CK), a muscle enzyme produced during exercise. While horses suffering from exertional rhabdomyolysis (tying up) will demonstrate increased levels, other studies have shown that prolonged endurance exercise can result in very high levels (> 30,000 IU/liter) without signs of clinical muscle damage(1). Distance and intensity of exercise are significant factors, so that one horse who completes slow 100 miles may have higher CK levels than an equally fit horse who finishes a brisk 50, with neither suffering clinical damage. An elevated level during or following an endurance ride (or other stressful event) indicates the horse has had a long, hard day, but should not necessarily be interpreted as "muscle damage" without considering other clinical signs. Elevated levels in a resting horse that has not exercised intensively for several days, however, may indicate disease such as infection, electrolyte imbalances or chronic rhabdomyolysis(2).
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 9752
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 - 6:12 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Charles,
No I don't believe the pony is suffering. For help with understanding your diarrhea and further diagnostic tests see Equine Diseases Colic and GI Diseases Diarrhea in Horses Diarrhea an Overview.

I don't believe there is a direct relation between the elevated CPK and the diarrhea and without signs of muscular disease it is a bit of a mystery but not absolutely indicitive of a problem.
DrO
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Charles Thomasson
Member
Username: Charlesj

Post Number: 3
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 - 9:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DrO

What is your opinion on the following as it relates to the pony's diarrhea:

1. Tape Worms (are they difficult to diagnose and could we have missed them in the tests -- and could they be related to the diarrhea?)
2. Macaroon cookies? Hey, I'll try anything, but is there any merit to this (no offence, Mr. Goddard -- I know you're trying to help!!)
3. This pony is not exposed to prolonged endurance exercise or exercised intensively for several days, And if exertional rhabdomyolysis may indicate disease such as infection, electrolyte imbalances or chronic rhabdomyolysis(2), how should he be treated for this and could this be causing the diarrhea? What is chronic rhabdomyolysis?

Thanks to anyone who can provide answers or suggestions!!!
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Charles Thomasson
Member
Username: Charlesj

Post Number: 4
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 - 9:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Also, I've learned this afternoon that this pony has not been wormed since he arrived at our barn about two months ago, and his health records during the time he was with our friends are sketchy. Should we simply assume that there is a worming issue (including the tapeworm possibility), and proceed accordingly? If so, could you recommend a worming schedule, including products, that we should following beginning NOW, to handle all of his worming issues. Should we begin with a double dose of the Strongid Paste wormer? Would this take care of a tapeworm issue? Should we then begin some type of daily wormer? Then what? And it would seem to me that the pony's small size should be a consideration. I was alarmed to find that given our pursuit with our vet of the diarrhea problem, that the pony wasn't wormed. Isn't this odd?

Someone please advise, and THANK YOU!!!
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Charles Thomasson
Member
Username: Charlesj

Post Number: 5
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 - 9:31 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

And, one more thing I forgot to mention -- the pony's legs were coated with bot eggs when we got him back. We removed them immediately.
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Donald W. Goddard
Member
Username: Gafarm

Post Number: 31
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 - 10:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Oh yes, it does sound like a worming problem. The double dose of Strongid paste should take care of tapeworms and kill off a lot of the other parasites but you will need to follow up with an ivermectin wormer for the bots a few weeks later. I would not worm first with the ivermectin because it could kill off too many at once and cause blockage if this pony is badly infested. JMHO
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 9756
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 - 11:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

1. Unlikely, but if you have not done so just deworm for them and eliminate the question: this is just standard care (see Care for Horses Deworming and Parasite Control Overview of Deworming.
2. This guy is really kidding himself about the macaroons, but our philosophy here is: if you really think it works and it is not hurting that is OK with us. The article on diarrhea has better ideas for empirical treatments.
3. You have the process backwards: you have a disease that causes symptoms, then such lab findings help nail down the cause. The lack of symptoms in the face of these lab values suggest your horses normal values fall out of the one standard deviation that normals are put in. If you wish to pursue the possibilty of a subclinical muscle problem see the article on EPSM for your next step. However I repeat, I do not know any way they could relate to your problem with diarrhea.
DrO
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Susan M. Herrick
Member
Username: Quatro

Post Number: 7
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 14, 2004 - 11:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi charles,

I can relate to your frustration. If you read the article by Dr. O on diarrhea, he mentions the use of beet pulp. I have been dealing with this problem for about 6 weeks, after much vet work, I mixed up 2 cups beet pulp, soaked for about a half hour, mixed with rolled oats in the am, and the same serving in the pm only added powdered electrolytes and powdered live probiotics. He is doing great. Occasionally the stools will become squirty for a day, but for the most part they are normal, soft, but normal formed. The best part is my hard keeper is putting on weight and acting rather fiesty.
Good luck
Sue


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Susan M. Herrick
Member
Username: Quatro

Post Number: 8
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 14, 2004 - 11:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O
I have been wanting to ask you? We give cooked white rice to dogs when they have a stress diarrhea. Can you give rice to horses, or is there something harmful in rice for horses?
thanks
sue
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 9760
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Jan 15, 2004 - 7:51 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Susan,
Do to the different physiologies this would not help a horse the way it might help a dog. Diarrhea in dogs and cats is as much a small bowel event as large bowel. The rice is a starchy energy source that is not irritating to a sensitive small bowel. In adult horses diarrhea is only a large bowel event: all the white rice is digested and absorbed by then.
DrO
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Susan M. Herrick
Member
Username: Quatro

Post Number: 9
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Thursday, Jan 15, 2004 - 1:06 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O
Thanks for the info
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