Saturday, January 11, 2014

Old horses are fragile

We've been watching Cash's teeth carefully for the last few years, and he's finally reached the point where his teeth are failing him. He's been having issues eating in the month or so, and we finally took him to the vet to have a look.

Sadly, Cash doesn't have any grinding surfaces left on any of his teeth. In addition, the vet found one tooth that was so far gone that it was loose in the socket and needed to be removed. Two of the roots didn't want to let go, so it ended up being a bit more complicated than the vet initially expected. Still, the surgery was a success and Cash came home with bute and a great prognosis.

Mmmmdruuuugs.

Unfortunately, after the sedation wore off, he was very agitated and worked himself into a sweat pacing. He didn't want to eat, and was having a very hard time drinking. We tucked him in Thursday night with hopes that he'd feel better by morning, but when we went out to feed Friday morning, he was laying down, breathing heavily, and staring at his side. Cash NEVER lays down except when he's colicking, and I've nearly lost him to colic more times that I can count. With another horse we might have gotten him up to walk or given him Banamine, but with Cash any signs of colic are an emergency. So we hitched up the trailer immediately and took him back to the vet.

Once there, they tubed him, palpated him (no impaction), and started him on IV fluids. 15 liters of fluids later and he was back to his usual perky self. Sadly, when they looked in his mouth the reason for not wanting to eat or drink became apparent - before the block on his mouth wore off, he had completely lacerated the inside of his cheek. It's so bad that we're rinsing his mouth out with Nolvason twice a day to try to get it to heal. We left him overnight last night so they could keep an extra close eye on him, but he was still doing great, so we brought him back home this morning.

He's still having quite a hard time both eating and drinking. He sort of sticks his tongue out and tries to drink - it takes him some time and he can do it, but it's not easy or the normal way horses drink. I don't think he can form the suction with his mouth so messed up. He's also not interested in his senior mash, but was trying to eat hay scraps which the vet says he cannot have due to choke risk. We have some Purina Hydration Hay, so we gave him some of that and it was a big hit. The vet has also said he can have as much short grass as he wants, since he can still tear it and shorter soft grass doesn't require much chewing. Cash spent most of the day in the back pasture eating, so that was good.

After having a good roll, Cash discovered that there was grass right under his nose.

Omnomnomnom….

Why bother standing when you can eat lying down?

For the immediate future, the goal is to keep him eating and drinking as much as possible, and rinse out his mouth with Nolvason. Going forward, we're going to have to change his diet a bit - he'll be getting chopped hay and alfalfa instead of whole, since he can't really chew anything. Soaked hay and/or alfalfa cubes are also an option, but in the summer here it's hard to feed since it spoils so quickly in the heat. We'll keep giving him as much Senior as we can stuff down his throat, and beet pulp as well if we can get him to eat it. I may try to get my hands on some Wendland's One And Only, which is a free-choice extruded feed that I've used in the past. He'll also be getting as much pasture as we can manage. Basically we're going to throw everything at him that we can think of getting him to eat, and hoping that he eats enough to keep him at a reasonable weight.

So please keep your fingers crossed for Cash for the next few days. We've got to get his mouth healed and then find a feeding program that works for him. He's in a bit of a fragile state right now, but he seems in good spirits and I'm hopeful that he will pull through!

30 comments:

  1. Fingers will be crossed for Cash! We had a horse in his 30's at our first barn. He got chopped forage watered down three times a day, plus pasture (which he mostly quidded). He was also loosing teeth, I even found one in his stall while cleaning it once. But, he did keep weight on with the chopped forage. I hope you find something that works for both of you!

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    1. We are getting some chopped forage today and hoping that will do the trick for him. He just loves his hay sooo much - more than grain! - so we need to find something for him.

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  2. Oh it's so difficult when they start to get on in years. I hope Cash comes through this ok. I bet if you get him through this problem, you'll be able to juggle his feed around until you find something that works. It's good that he's nibbling on the grass now.

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    1. He's improving day-by-day, so I am hopeful! He's definitely relishing his time on pasture.

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  3. Hope Cash heals up quick! If anyone can get Cash's diet dialed in - you can. Sending positive thoughts his way.

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    1. CFS, you know me to well! We'll throw food at him until we find something he loves, lol. Thanks for the positive thoughts!

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  4. Amplify. Extruded pellet with low sugar and high fat, plus protein. It is a very small pellet that can be mixed with his other feed. I used it when I was rehabbing Ashke and it helped a lot to increase his weight without increasing the risk of tying up.

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    1. Karen, I'll keep that in mind. Does it soak well? He's going to be eating mush for the rest of his life.

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  5. Oh, poor Cash boy. Sending lots of thoughts for speedy healing!

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  6. Awww, poor old man. Good thoughts to you!

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  7. It's hell getting old, buddy. Lilly and I hope you're feeling better in no time!

    Hopefully once his mouth is feeling better he'll be more excited about eating. AJ has had a few teeth pulled these last couple years, but we've had to soak his feed for quite a while because he had a really difficult time chewing it up. He's doing well on Equine Senior. I'm sure you'll find the perfect diet for him.

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    1. Yeah we've been soaking Cash's feed for at least 4 years - he's choked several times so he's at high risk for that. I think once his mouth heals more he'll be back to vacuuming things up - it just sucks to eat when your mouth hurts!

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  8. Hang in there Cash you will feel better soon!

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  9. So glad he ended up coming out of all that okay!

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    1. He's still struggling with eating, but it's definitely getting better.

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  10. Positive vibes for the old guy! He's still got a glint in his eye, he's bound to soar through this.

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    1. Thanks, Liz, he's doing much better now.

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  11. Hang in there, buddy! Wildfire and Mama, the little paint shetland and grey donkey next to my boys, that I showed you? They are both in their thirties and have no teeth at all. They "graze" but for actual food, they get a pelleted feed that is soaked into formless mush and they love it.

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    1. Yes, we just need to convince Cash that mush is better than anything else. He will eat hay scraps instead of his Very Expensive senior feed. WTH, horse?!?!

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  12. So hard to know how to manage the old guys. Hope he's feeling better ASAP!

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  13. Sending good thoughts for Cash. It sounds like he is improving a little every day, even if it is giving you fits. Here to more improvement (and more fits!). Take care of yourself too.

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    1. Thanks, WIHAH! He's definitely getting better day by day. :)

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  14. I found beet pulp pellets and I use 1 cup pellets to 1/2 bucket of water it makes a lovely wet mash for the COPD mare, I mix in 2 cups pellets. Being in Houston and dealing with the heat I mix it in the house and keep it in the back room, I mix a portion twice a day. I haven't had it go sour. I did have the beet pulp fakes go sour. The brand is Stanlee and tractor supply sells it.
    My old boy is 25 this year and I had his teeth worked on last year, he was really sore for days. Only ate small portions of his feed spiked with molasses for nearly two weeks, I was getting frantic. Then he just went back to eating it all. I get him checked once a year now.

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    1. I used BP as well! We're currently working it back into his diet - tonight was 2 scoops soaked. Figuring out how to get 20+ lbs / day of mushy stuff into an older horse is a challenge! Glad you figured out something that worked for your old guy.

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