Friday, November 11, 2011

Diesel the Orphaned Foal - The first ten days!

Diesel - arrived on 10-29-11
Over the last few months EqWBR has stepped in to help some of the horses on a feedlot in Fallon, NV where horses are collected before being shipped to a meat factory in Canada where they are slaughtered and sold for consumption in countries like France where horse meat is considered a delicacy.

Over the years we have helped a few other feedlot horses:  Lily & Dr. Bill (her 5 day old foal), Stella the thoroughbred,  Gypsy & Smudge (Carter Reservoir Mustangs) and we have donated funds to help get others to safety also.    Recently we have helped in some part to get over 20 off the lot in Fallon and into safe homes, Shala (see her blog article) was came in to us last month.

While most of them were yearlings or close to that age, we finally got an opportunity to help some orphaned foals.  They were separated from the moms upon arrival and then just had to fend for themselves in with a large group of other foals, pregnant mares and mares with foals at their sides.  You have to pay to get these babies off that wretched lot and this sweet guy and a filly that is a few months older each cost EqWBR $125 plus fees.

We also opened our doors to a pregnant mare (pictured on the right of the foals), but she had a fracture in her leg that was so bad the vets recommended humane euthanasia before she even got to our pick-up location.   This was the picture I received the day before we were to pick them up.

Weanling filly, baby colt and pregnant mare 10-28-11

I also received a picture showing that the gray and white colt had a large swollen abscess under his jaw which is typically caused by a virus call 'strangles', a very contagious virus and one of the reasons we always quarantine any new horses that come into the property. The arrow in the picture below shows the large abscess under his chin.

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In addition to picking up these two, we also transported another foal that was coming to the San Diego area.  His owners, Rebecca and he boys, had named their foal Enzo.  Rebecca rode with me to pick the horses up and what we found was that all three of them were sick.  So rather than drop Enzo off at his new home, he came to EqWBR to get his strength back before being separated from his two foal friends.  That separation at his weakened, ill state would no doubt have been very traumatic for him.

By far the worst of the three was Diesel.  He was named that because he was so plugged up that when he took a breath, it would make a deep rumbling sound like a diesel truck.  The name seemed perfect.   But boy was this young baby sick.  He looks to be only 2-3 months old and was much shorter than the others.  Severely underweight, in this picture he is only about 200-225 pounds.   He is one of the few horses I have seen in my life that literally was skin and bones, he had used all his fat reserves just trying to live on that feedlot and the only muscles that you could feel were along his back legs.
48" at the shoulder and under 225 pounds - skin & bones 10-29-11

By the time he arrived at EqWBR his abscess had popped, drained and left a substantial hole in the side of his face.  The picture below shows what it looked like after cleansing it.  Once an abscess pops, if there is a drain tract low to gravity, it is good to flush the abscess out.  I do a three step process.  First flush is with a dilute of betadine scrub and the next two with clean, warm water.  Then we put Swat around the edge of the area to prevent the bugs from getting to it.
Strangles abscess had burst in transit leaving this gaping hole on his jaw
So within 24 hours of his arrival with a small amount of sedative we put a halter on him, cleaned all his wounds and the abscess, brushed him and gave him some pain reliever and fever reducer.  The following day we cleaned and flushed the abscess again, and started him on some supplements to build his strength and immunity back.  Still way to weak at this point to give him anything for the parasites, but soon.  

In the next few days, more abscesses appeared under his jaw (sub-mandibular lymph node area) making it difficult for him to swallow.  We started doing very warm compresses to help relieve some of the pain and started him on an antibiotic called Exceed, which is time-released so we would have to be giving him shots daily, nor trying to get meds down his swollen throat.  Two injections are given 4 days apart.  I realized just how thin he was when I went to give him this medicine in a muscle had couldn't find any.  The only place he had a small amount of muscle was on his back legs, which are so thin that when you look at him from the back, you can see completely between his legs up to the front of his body.   No butt either.
Body Condition Score 1 out of 10, hardly any muscle mass on 10-29-11

With his throat so swollen and drinking less water because of it, by day five he was laying down when I came out in the morning and couldn't get up.  I called the vet because he had gone down hill quickly overnight.   So many things are working against him, probably anemic, high parasite load, on and off again fever, some swollen and some draining abscesses, and no muscle mass to keep him warm at night and it had been colder than expected that night.  We think he was just weak from everything combined.

I was So worried that even with all we were doing to help him recover, we might have to put him down, maybe his organs just couldn't function like they should.  Hospitalization would give him round the clock care but could run into the thousands and that is just not an option at this time.  Dr. Brown was confident I could do what she needed done for him until she got there.

I started flushing his mouth with a large dose syringe that I use for my equine dentistry and then was able to get some to dribble down his throat and he started to swallow.  We got a great product that includes electrolytes, vitamins, minerals and amino acids in a paste for I could put in his mouth.  Added Ranitadine (Prilosec) to prevent ulcers. some more hot compresses and pain meds and good alfalfa and we gave him a dose of de-worming meds (pyrantal pamoate - Strongid) to start riding him of the parasites that are taking the nutrients away from his body. He started to eat and ate for 3 hours straight and stopped to drink at least a gallon of water.  Better, but not out of the woods.

We found a quilted, waterproof XXL dog blanket and put that on him to keep the warmth in and then covered that with a thick fleece blanket.   The following morning (Friday) we started all over again with the flushing, electrolytes and everything else he needed and still all the wound management.  By 6pm, in the pouring rain - it had rained very hard all day, Dr. Dawn Brown of West Coast Equine Medicine arrived to give him IV fluids.  We put in a catheter and gave him 2000 units of Lactated Ringers.  The following day he got 1600 more.  When I went to give him his final dose, he had swelling around the catheter site, so I pulled it and he already had infection in the area.  This poor little guys body is just struggling.

Well the fluids helped and his appetite picked up, we found an old and tattered, but better fitting blanket to keep him warm (some nights down to 36 degrees) and kept all the rest of the good stuff going into him . We were given some colostrum powder to add to his diet that will also help build back his immunity.

After a week of being with us he is still really sick and a little weak and with the swelling in his neck and vestibular area, he is a little wobbly, but he has started to visibly put on a little weight, his appetite is good and he drinks well, so we just keep up the daily routine of cleaning his abscesses, all his supplements and meds and still hot compresses on his neck.
After IV fluids and good food he has started to put on weight
This picture was taken 10 days after his arrival and you can see he is starting to look a little better.  Slowly, painfully slowly he is starting to get better.  Those few days last week when I was worried we might have to put him down were agonizing .

I have made an extra effort in the last few days to take extra time to brush him and clean him up all over.  I don't want him to think that every time he sees me I am going to poke him, give him meds or treat his wounds which seems like all I have been doing over the last 10 days.

He is remarkable.  There are times when I am sitting out in the stall to just give them comfort that he would walk over to me and just rest his head on my shoulder.  I can't imagine what his life was like before he got here, but not good that's for sure.

He is not out of the woods yet, but he is getting closer.  The amount of nursing care he needs has been less this week, his fever is gone, the only abscess left is on his neck at the catheter site and that has started to drain and his appetite and thirst remain good.  I will keep you updated over the next several weeks.

Big thanks go out to all those who generously donated so far to help cover all his medical care which has now in excess $500, the generous donation of the colostrum from Dani Lloyd, and yesterday I got an email that a new blanket for him will be arriving by the 14th from a very dear person who wants to remain anonymous.

More funds are still needed for his ongoing care and food.  So if you would like to contribute it will help make him well, you can send a check to EqWBR, PO Box 324, Ramona, CA  92065  or you can click the donate button.  

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