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Discussion on Fast shallow breathing caused by abscess pain?

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Imogen Bertin
Username: imogen

Post Number: 1048
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Sunday, Dec 16, 2007 - 2:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Just wanted to thank Dr O once more for this site.

Last night returned from Christmas shopping to find my young horse standing back from the stable door panting with her eyes half closed - it was the abnromal position in the stable that tipped me off that something was wrong, as she either eats in a specific place, lies down or hangs her head out of the door normally.

Thought, ok maybe she's too hot from her blanket, or panicking about where her companion is. No, neither of those. Continued to pant and heave. I already knew she was slightly lame but I started to worry about colic or pneumonia.

This was 9 pm on a Saturday night, so if I called the vet it was going to be maybe 4-6 hours before I would see whoever had drawn the short straw and was on emergency shift.

Walked her about the yard, she was eating normally and lame but not dog-lame. Took temperature 102.5 and observed. Still panting but it was coming and going. Cleaned all her feet out, the panting got a lot worse when I went near the lame foot.

Poor thing is, I think, in severe pain from an abscess - the leg which was slightly swollen has this morning blown up quite large but there isn't any wound and the muddy conditions are ripe for abscesses. I did get up in the night to check her just in case I was wrong...

Did not call vet, have put in a call for farrier (ha ha, week before Christmas?) and am soaking the foot to try to give a bit of relief in the meantime.

Horseadvice lets me check I have done stuff correctly (temperature etc. - it was a bit high but the panting was like exercise it was so strong) and the board helps me save money on vet calls, but make the right calls when I need to.

I particularly was relieved by the advice that "if you cannot count the breaths your horse's respiration is probably OK" as I found when I did try to count them it was extremely hard even though her nostrils were flared with the fast, shallow breathing...

Happy Christmas Dr O - just think - as well as helping all of us you are saving your colleagues around the world from unnecessary night calls!

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Username: frances

Post Number: 558
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Sunday, Dec 16, 2007 - 5:50 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Imogen - don't know if it's the same for horses, but in dogs panting can definitely be due to pain, according to my (dog) vet.

Will your farrier be willing/able to pare out the abscess in the absence of the vet if that's what it turns out to be?

Do hope your mare's more comfortable by now.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: dro

Post Number: 19718
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Dec 16, 2007 - 5:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you Imogen but I think I am being complimented for a misunderstood hint that I meant to be helpful.

In the article on vital signs I am discussing what is normal respiration and that one of it's characteristics is that it is shallow, slow, and somewhat irregular making counting difficult. But your post suggests a horse that has abnormal respiration, panting, which normally creates a easily seen and regular respiratory patter therefore easily counted. You are right that pain, and there is little as painful as an abscess, can cause a horse to pant. I will review the article to see if I can clear up this statement. Was the farrier able to get out and find that abscess?
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Imogen Bertin
Username: imogen

Post Number: 1049
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Monday, Dec 17, 2007 - 5:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I think the abscess has partly burst. Her leg blew up swollen that night as well, and the swelling had gone down but not vanished 12 hours later plus the lameness has reduced but not vanished. I have continued soaking the foot in hot salty water twice a day, and she's not had any return of the panting.

My neighbour and livery yard owner says she has seen this increased pain (but not the panting) quite often in horses that are developing a drop out in the field. When you bring them into the stable, because they are not walking, the swelling gets worse so the pain gets worse, she thinks.

The panting was coming and going which was why it was hard to measure the respiration - it was either extremely fast measured via nostrils or almost impossible to tell measured via flanks.

Still trying for that elusive Christmas farrier...

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Imogen Bertin
Username: imogen

Post Number: 1050
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Dec 19, 2007 - 12:47 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

A belated update (a wrinkle with my membership renewal put me offline for the past few days).

48 hours after giving me this fright the 2 yo was 100% sound, and the leg swelling had entirely gone down so in the end I didn't even need to get the farrier. I did soak the leg in hot salt water twice a day.

My farrier told me if the leg did not reduce he wanted me to poulice the hoof with warm glycerine that had sugar dissolved in it overnight, in the morning clean off the poultice with hot salt water and continue to leave her out in the field to walk around during the day.

So just an oddity, but might help someone else very worried about sudden strange breathing with no obvious cause in a horse... My livery yard friend always says "I like drops... they pretty much always get better!" On the other hand maybe this horse is going to turn out to be a wussy about pain.

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