Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

Last post 12-27-2011 10:43 AM by bartleyschris. 28 replies.
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  • 03-08-2011 9:35 AM

    Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    A 19 year old rescue at our barn has stopped eating this last week... I last saw him on Thursday, and when I came back out last night I could see the difference in him! It's a little scary!

     His owner has had two different vets out, they have done a full blood panel and there is nothing to indicate a problem. However, his resting respiration rate is way high, and the vets have decided that he has allergies and have put him on Pred to help out.

    His coat is shiny, but that's about where it stops. He is listless, depressed, and just walks around his pasture picking at the grass. Teeth were just done within the last 3 months. He does not react to poking and prodding to look for painful spots and although really sluggish, still tries to respond to his owner's requests to move out under saddle. He is drinking normally, and his stools, although small from lack of food intake, are of a normal color, odor, and consistency (no cow plops yet).

    His attitude seems to be that of an animal that is just tolerating life. He'll still take apples and treats as snacks, rather reluctantly, but is not interested in his meals (Seminole Wellness Perform Safe, with beetpulp, neighlox, wheatgerm oil, and added vitamins, not sure of his amounts though). 3 small meals a day and free choice hay in the stall, access to pasture with a bale for at least 10 hours every day.

     Anyone have any idea why he's just stopped eating? He is under vet care, but I just feel like we are missing something and this forum has always been full of good ideas!

    All the other horses (other geriatrics included) are in good weight and on the muscle... this little guy is the only one who is failing to thrive. Any ideas or tips you can lend me?

  • 03-08-2011 9:55 AM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    Try another vet, get a 3rd opinion. Go to a teaching vet hospital.

    The first thing that came to mind is that he's ready to die--that's why he no longer eats--though 19 is not that old, and no obvious reasons for his lethargy have been found, so saying he wants to die is rather drastic. Does he have companions during turnout? Does anything perk him up? Maybe his rider should give him a break from work? Those are just ideas.
    Megan


    "The horse you get off is not the horse you got on. It is your job as a rider to ensure that as often as possible, the change is for the better."

    Anonymous




  • 03-08-2011 10:00 AM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    awwww, so sorry to hear that, the old guys are so near and dear to my heart.  my 27ish year old did this for 2 days, then snapped out of it and has been fine for a few months now, no recurrance yet.  sounds like it could be an ulcer, but you think they would have found that with the blood work.  sorry, not much help, this has gone on much longer than my guy's episode. . .  good luck and please keep us updated and let us know, would be very interested what happens.

  • 03-08-2011 10:06 AM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    The barn owner and I have been brainstorming ideas all morning. She is going to call a third vet in the area and get another look at him.

    He has a sweet 20 something gelding as a pasture companion, and our Old Guy is top of the pecking order so they get along great. There are no challenges from the beasty TBs as they are at the back of the property and do not share a fenceline.

    He'll perk up and look around when other people in the neighborhood ride their horses up the road, but by perk up I mean his head comes up half an inch, his ears go forward, but he stays planted with a leg cocked. Pasture Buddy meanwhile will be prancing along the fenceline flirting with the newcomers.

    His belly feels tight and hard, and his capillary refill was slower than I am used to. He also frequently stands with one back leg stretched out behind him, taking weight, but kind of a half park-out. Makes me wonder if he has pain in the belly or groin area.

    His owner is 17 and a hunter yahoo (I say this with love). She wants to ride at speed and we have repeatedly asked her to slow it down, an outright "No Riding" may be in order, I agree. Since he's been with her, he has put on a lot of muscle (which you can clearly see as there is no fat coating to hide any of it). I'm sure his metabolism is up from the extra calories he's burning. 

    Thanks for the ideas 48, I'll keep ya posted!

     

  • 03-08-2011 11:19 AM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    If the horse has not eaten for days and you are shocked at the way he looks after not seeing him for a few days, common sense tells me to stop riding him, cuz, he's sick.  i'd still take him for walks to entertain him, though.

    standing like that reminds me of what my horse was doing last year and it turned out he had a hoof abcess festering (could've been for months too, we didn't know til it burst out his heel).  he still ate, but, he was a misery temperment wise (and i didn't know why)

    the only other comparison for me is my old dogs.  they stopped eating at old ages (13 and 15, i think).  except for not eating and sleeping alot, they seemed fine, but, we took them to the vet after 3 or 4 days of not eating and tests showed cancer.  this happened to 2 different dogs we have had over the years.

    i like that you board with a caring barn owner.

    Gailforce -- Another old lady rediscovering her inner cowgirl.
  • 03-08-2011 12:02 PM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

     Can tying up happen long and slow?



    Solaris -- 16 hh Appendix Quarter Horse = MY DREAM COME TRUE!
    We Are Flying Solo
  • 03-08-2011 12:19 PM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    No

  • 03-08-2011 12:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    Good!

     ETA -- although worth still asking the vet about just to be sure, as the symptoms sound very similar, especially given the riding habits description. 



    Solaris -- 16 hh Appendix Quarter Horse = MY DREAM COME TRUE!
    We Are Flying Solo
  • 03-08-2011 12:47 PM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

     could be a number of things.  Cracked tooth, Ulcer's, cancer, muscle soreness if the rider rides the snot out of him and then just puts him up.  I would be getting this horse to a local university or major equine clinic.  Few more days and he will be dead if you don't.  Could be a very simple fix. Could be something terrible.  But if the horse is rapidly loosing weight and going down hill fast the owner needs to get the horse some major vet help or just euth.



    If at first you don't succeed, do it the way your wife told you to. (author unknown)
  • 03-08-2011 7:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

     A couple of months ago, my Percheron mare seemed listless and went off her feed - not like her at all, although she didn't stop eating entirely, she just didn't try and rip the bucket out of your hand. 

    My barn manager mentioned that one of the other horses in the barn had colicked and the vet that came out diagnosed sand colic.  He recommended Sand-Clear. So my barn owner went ahead and put Star on a week long course (he used a generic brand which was less expensive) and it worked well. Star was back to her old "Give me a treat and no one will get hurt" self in just a few days.

    I'm sure the vets already considered that possibility and ruled it out, but thought I'd mention it anyway.  I hope he gets better.

  • 03-08-2011 7:28 PM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    Jayne-Admin:

     A couple of months ago, my Percheron mare seemed listless and went off her feed - not like her at all, although she didn't stop eating entirely, she just didn't try and rip the bucket out of your hand. 

    My barn manager mentioned that one of the other horses in the barn had colicked and the vet that came out diagnosed sand colic.  He recommended Sand-Clear. So my barn owner went ahead and put Star on a week long course (he used a generic brand which was less expensive) and it worked well. Star was back to her old "Give me a treat and no one will get hurt" self in just a few days.

    I'm sure the vets already considered that possibility and ruled it out, but thought I'd mention it anyway.  I hope he gets better.

     

    Oh good thinking Jayne.  It's all dreary and snowy and yucky here.. I forgot about sand..



    If at first you don't succeed, do it the way your wife told you to. (author unknown)
  • 03-09-2011 6:03 AM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    Has the vet had a good look down his throat? There may be some blockage there. And you said he had his teeth done within the last 3 months, did they pull any? I'm thinking possible infection or a tooth has moved, causing pain. Has anyone looked up into his sinus's? I am also thinking possible heart failure or has something major out of what. Lack of raising his head could be nerve damage or just something out of line that a chiropractor could put back in. Sure hope the 3rd vet can shed some light on things for ya.



    If you don't want to stand behind our soldiers who are in danger zones, please stand in front of one.

    If you really open your ears and eyes, you will see that there is alot of great advice given on here. You just have to see it and hear it without closing off your mind.


    VanHalen 26 yr QH Stallion R.I.P. 4/11/82 - 5/8/08 24 wonderful years together.
    Scout 25-28 yr Paint/Draft Cross Gelding
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  • 03-09-2011 11:49 AM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    These are awesome suggestions! I am so grateful for eveyone's input. I learn something every time I come here for guidance.

    So since the fecal blood work came back negative for blood in the stool, the vet(s) are ruling out ulcers. He was scoped and there was nothing obvious, although there did seem to be a small adhesion (it was described as polyp-looking) in his throat, which may or may not have been caused by an encapsulated foreign body at some earlier point, but not big enough to cause a blockage.

     So since there's no sign of ulcers, they gave him two grams of bute, and voila! Old Man showed interest in munchies (just hay, we cut the grain right down in case the sudden change from no eating to full ration caused him to colic). Pasture Buddy, meanwhile has been watching worriedly from his stall next door. The Beastie TB's could care less.

    So it seems to be a pain issue. But where?! I'm guessing they will just have to start at the top and work their way down his whole body. In the meantime, he has been relegated to total rest and loves. His adoptive yahoo understands his situation now and has been practising her braiding skills on him instead of riding.

    I will pass on your suggestions to our wonderful BO (she really is the best!), and let you know how things progress.

    Keep hooves crossed! This guy came to us totally neglected, and we want him to live out his days in peace, safety, and good health.

     

  • 03-09-2011 9:15 PM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

    Great news that the bute helped. I hope they can find the pain issue. We'll be waiting to hear.
    Megan


    "The horse you get off is not the horse you got on. It is your job as a rider to ensure that as often as possible, the change is for the better."

    Anonymous




  • 03-11-2011 9:20 AM In reply to

    Re: Old guy has stopped eating. Ideas?

     Any update on the old guy?



    If at first you don't succeed, do it the way your wife told you to. (author unknown)

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