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Discussion on Sudden Weight Loss

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Donna L. Myers
Member
Username: Dlmyers1

Post Number: 10
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2004 - 10:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi, Dr. O.

I have an almost 26 year old mare that started dropping weight about 6 weeks ago. About 3 weeks ago, she developed diarrhea. She also basically quit eating about 2 weeks ago.

She has been in the same pasture with 3 other horses for a long time. No one new has come in, nor has anything changed in the pasture. No one else is sick.

She has been on free choice orchard grass hay, pasture, and 6 pounds of 12% sweet coarse feed twice a day. She had been doing fine up until about 6 weeks ago.

The mare is on a regular worming program. When the diarrhea started, I called the vet and she recommended I give her Safeguard for 5 days. I did that with no improvement.

I had the vet out to check her teeth. The vet floated her teeth and said that she was missing one and had a few sharp edges. There was nothing extraordinary about the exam. The vet also drew blood for a chemistry and blood count. She had me give her 5 cc of dexamethasone once a day, hoping it would decrease any inflammation in her intestines. She had a low WBC count and everything else was normal on that test. On the chemistry, everything was normal, except the Albumen, which was low. The vet said this was due to lack of eating.

This poor mare has lost around 200 pounds and is starting to look really bad. She is bright eyed and happy - she is just not eating. She acts like she wants to and then just eats a few mouthfuls. I have tried everything from putting molasses on her grain, to giving her plain oats and corn, alfalfa pellets, soaked alfalfa cubes, dry alfalfa cubes - you name it - I've tried it.

The vet had mentioned that she might possibly have intestinal cancer. I cannot seem to find much information on this. Is there an article on the site I am missing?

Do you have any other ideas?

The vet doesn't feel it is malabsorption syndrome or salmonella.

Any ideas you have to offer will be deeply appreciated.

Thanks.

Donna Myers
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 9975
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Feb 19, 2004 - 8:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Donna,
I am sorry to hear about your mare, this does not sound good. The order of events: weight loss, followed by diarrhea, followed by inappetance does suggest a disease process that started with increased metabolic need and leading to feeling sick does suggest cancer or organ failure. Since the blood work rules out acute organ failure I can see why your vet thinks possible cancer. This is pretty rare and the actual course depends on the type of cancer and the location. Each case is different.

Unfortunately your post does not provide any clues for a specific diagnosis. The article associated with this forum provides rule out lists and ways to test for them. If your vet is at a impass and you want to pursue this further on the chance something treatable could be found, I suggest a referral and quick.
DrO
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Donna L. Myers
Member
Username: Dlmyers1

Post Number: 11
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, Feb 19, 2004 - 9:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O.,

Thanks for confirming what I knew in my heart and what the vet suspects.

My vet has always told me that it is hard to put them down when they are eating and bright and alert. She is bright and alert, but not eating.

Since her pasture mates are not sick, I turned her back in with them a couple of days ago. She was extremely depressed and unhappy without them. I felt that having her separated from them was doing more harm than good.

I got her as a starving rescue mare almost 3 years ago. She was fed when her owner had the money to feed her. This old girl has had almost 3 years of not being hungry and lots of love an attention.

The vet did say we could take her to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for a definitive diagnosis, but that we could still end up with a mare that is almost 26 and dying. Her suggestion was to put her down.

As much as it saddens me, I will have her put down tomorrow, rather than let her die a slow death from starvation.

Thanks again.

Donna Myers

www.dreamcatcherstables.net
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Sherri L. Hueser
Member
Username: Tangoh

Post Number: 418
Registered: 3-2000
Posted on Thursday, Feb 19, 2004 - 10:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Donna,

I just spent about an hour on your website. What a great website, great pictures and stories. It really made my day! Thanks for doing the wonderful work you do for what I consider to be God's finest creature. It must be hard everytime you lose the battle with one of your rescued horses, but I guess there is a balance because of the many wonderful success stories.
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Sherri L. Hueser
Member
Username: Tangoh

Post Number: 419
Registered: 3-2000
Posted on Thursday, Feb 19, 2004 - 12:17 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Donna,

I just spent about an hour on your website. What a great website, great pictures and stories. It really made my day! Thanks for doing the wonderful work you do for what I consider to be God's finest creature. It must be hard everytime you lose the battle with one of your rescued horses, but I guess there is a balance because of the many wonderful success stories.
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Liliana Velasco Ariza
Member
Username: Liliana

Post Number: 21
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Thursday, Feb 19, 2004 - 3:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Donna,
Three years ago she came to you to get the love she never knew, The chance she got to get the rest she well deserved in pastures new.
The time has come to say good-bye to a much-loved friend, who passes by,On to a new life, where there is no pain, leaving behind a faithful friend who gave her love right till the end… Parting is hard and breaks our hearts.
In years to come you will look back and thank the stars for faithful friends that came to you only by chance… You won’t replace her but, she will be part of the tapestry of your life.
My deepest sympathy
Liliana
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Donna L. Myers
Member
Username: Dlmyers1

Post Number: 12
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, Feb 20, 2004 - 8:46 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you for the kind words.

Dream was euthanized tonight at 6:00 pm. She lost her best friend a year and a half ago. Dream never accepted anyone else as completely as she did her special friend. I hope they are together. I miss her all ready.

Donna Myers
www.dreamcatcherstables.net
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Katrina Turner
Member
Username: Kthorse

Post Number: 177
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, Feb 20, 2004 - 9:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Donna,
Words cannot say enough when you lose part of your family. I still miss my horses that have gone on. I loved you web site. Thank goodness for people like you.
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Elizabeth Donahue
Member
Username: Paul303

Post Number: 425
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, Feb 20, 2004 - 10:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Among the many selfless tasks you delegate to yourself, one, seems to be the gentle ushering of weary equine souls to their final rest. How wonderfully you go about providing blissful peace and freedom from want and fear as they drift softly to sleep.
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