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Dan C., DVM
Dan C., DVM, Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1174
Experience:  Solo Equine Practitioner/Mobile Practice Owner for 16 years.
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My horse has recurring ventral edema and has had since he was

Customer Question

My horse has recurring ventral edema and has had since he was about 5 years old (I bought him when he was 4). He is a nine year old Lippizan that had surgery on his right rear suspensory ligament about 2 years ago. He has been pastured since then. About a month ago he experienced a great deal of ventral edema and was not feeling wel at all. He ran a fever of about 102.9 which we held in abayence with a low dose of banimine. His blood work showed a slightly elevated white blood count but nothing else. The tider for pigeon fever came aback negative. I have taken salt away from him and he only gets hay with a small amount of low carb grain (less than a quarter cup) just enough to hold the Next Level joing supplement. He is on dry pasture during the day and in my covered arena at night. The vets have never been able to figure out his edema his heart and lungs have been listened to. Help. Thank you.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 8 years ago.



I'm sorry to hear about your horse's condition. I need to ask you a few questions to try to help.


1): Is there always a fever associated with the edema?


2): Have you noticed any edema in the legs or prepuce?


3): Have his chemistries been checked (liver enzymes, total protein, albumin, etc.)?


4): Are there any lasting effects from the suspensory ligament surgery?


Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX'm looking forward to hearing from you.


-Dan C., DVM

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

1. No the fever was recent and has been gone for about 2 weeks. His heart and lungs were listened to twice and the vet said they are good. I noticed that when he gets any salt (no matter how small an amount) he gets more edema. I have pulled the salt but he still has some edema (which like I said he has had for about 4 years.)


2. He does not seem to get the edema anywhere but ventrally and now in his sheath. (His sheath was cleaned about a month and a half ago and was not very dirty at all.)


3. He had a blood panel drawn when he was so very swollen (looked like he had an enormous white inner tube around the base of his belly) The only thing that came back slightly abnormal was his white blood count was very slightly elevated, everything else came back normal.


I have noticed that when he gest more edema his whole belly from top to bottom seems larger. Especially on the right side, where there is more edema.


The leg they did survery on was his right hind. He was doing fine in his recovery for about 6 months. Then he decided to play hard and re tore the ligament right below where the surgery had been done. He is reasonably sound now - but no longer showable. Once all of this has been resolved I hope to softly trail ride him. He would even make a great trick horse, I have never seen a horse learn so quickly and he loves the attention (on his terms though, which is a breed characteristic).


He did receive the antidepresent drug for about six months to keep him calm. He used to love to do levades in his stall and caprioles wherever he could he was very althletic and loved to play. He is still extremely flexible and reaches around to bite and scratch his own rump, flank, foot, hock and privates. Although he is stiff after he has been laying down and sometimes is weak on the right hind when he gets up.



Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 8 years ago.

Hi Lynne, and thanks for getting back to me.


I can understand why you and your vets are mystified. There is nothing that immediately stands out in my mind as to what could be causing this problem.


Pitting edema is normally secondary to some type of inflammatory process, and as it sounds as if his most recent episode involved a fever, it would appear to be the case for your horse as well.


What comes to mind, and perhaps worthy of some investigation, would be some type of low-lying sepsis, or a bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which can be linked to fever of unknown origin. Diagnosis involves a series of blood samples taken in special tubes, that are then plated out for bacterial culture. It can often be difficult to isolate an organism, but is rewarding when finally achieved. Samples are best taken when there is a fever present and there are no antibiotics present in the bloodstream, so if you decide to pursue this possibility, I would probably wait until the onset of another episode, and then take multiple samples on consecutive days. Once an organism is isolated, an antibiotic sensitivity test can be performed so an appropriate antibiotic can be administered.


I hope this has helped, and please let me know if you have any further questions.


Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX the best!



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