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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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I have a 32 year old with bad teeth. Of course she is losing

Customer Question

I have a 32 year old with bad teeth. Of course she is losing weight, but today she has a swollen anus. What has failed?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.
Greetings, and apologies for the delay. It appears that your requestd Dr. is offline. I just got online and saw your question and didn't want you to have to wait any longer.
I'm sorry to hear abot your mare's condition. 32 years is indeed a long lifespan, but is becoming more common with the advances we have made in equine medicine. I need to ask you a few questions concerning your mare's condition so that I can give you a thorough answer:
1): How long has she been losing weight?
2): How would you rate her body condition (if a 1 is skin and bones, and a 9 is obese, where would you think that she would fit in the scale)?
3): Have you noticed any diarrhea?
4): Is she current on her deworming, and which product was recently used?
5): What does her current diet consist of, and does she eat all of her ration?
6): Have you noticed any foul smells from her mouth?
7): As far as the anal swelling: Is there any way that you could perhaps send a photo? How large is the swelling related to it's normal size? Is the swelling painful? Any problems passing manure (straining, pain. etc.)?
Thanks, ***** ***** looking forward to hearing from you.
-Dan C.
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.
Judt wsnted to let you know that I'll be signing off for the evening. I'll check for any responses first thing in the morning.
Thanks again,
-Dan C.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Dan,
1): How long has she been losing weight?
About two weeks. We had her teeth floated last fall and she did well during the winter despite the fact that she has lost quite a few grinders. This Spring she was OK while the grass was tender green but now that's its headed out and coarse she is having trouble.2): How would you rate her body condition (if a 1 is skin and bones, and a 9 is obese, where would you think that she would fit in the scale)? 4 or 53): Have you noticed any diarrhea?
We have been feeding her soaked alfalfa cubes in addition to grass for a week and then she left our house and went out to the forest on our 400 acres. When we found her, she had the swollen anus and a puffy spot on her inner thigh. Her breath smelled horrible. She passed normal looking, well formed excrement. But after drinking lots of water and going to a diet of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge pellets with her soaked cubes, she now has diarrhea.
4): Is she current on her deworming, and which product was recently used?5): What does her current diet consist of, and does she eat all of her ration? she eats everything and is looking more bright eyed and energetic.6): Have you noticed any foul smells from her mouth? its disappeared.7): As far as the anal swelling: Is there any way that you could perhaps send a photo? How large is the swelling related to it's normal size? Is the swelling painful? Any problems passing manure (straining, pain. etc.)? No straining. The swelling is slowly going down as if it was a lot worse earlier. I suspect she coliced.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She is wormed every quarter with an Evectrin type wormer. None of my 50 horses seem to get worms. Its a very dry climate and they spend every night out to pasture.
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.
Good Morning, and thanks for all of the great detail! It helps a lot!
I'm glad to hear that the swelling is going down, and hopefully it will continue to do so. Although colic doesn't normally cause swelling, it can at times be a secondary result if the horse was down and rolling, etc., causing bruising, scratching, swelling, etc. There could also be several other reasons for her swelling, one of which is liver compromise. If the liver isn't producing enough proteins, the fluid in the bloodstream will literally "leak" out of the blood vessels and collect in the tissues. This is a phenomena called osmosis, where the fluid is attracted to larger molecules outside of the bloodstream due to the decrease in the protein molecules.
The fact that she has diarrhea at this point, along with the weight loss is concerning, as she is losing multiple nutrients and electrolytes as she's not absorbing her feed and fluid. The possibilities for cases of diarrhea is quite a laundry list, but based on her history and your explanation of her condition, I would not rule out some type of cancer. It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for older horses to develop a lymphoma-type cancer within the intestinal walls, which prevents the absorption of fluid and nutrients, resulting in severe and rapid weight loss. I see several cases of this yearly in some of my older patients. Not to sound scary, but it is a distinct possibility to consider.
If she were my patient, I'd recommend considering a complete blood panel (a CBC (complete blood count) and a chemistry, which looks at liver and kidney function, as well as a myriad of other aspects that are helpful in reaching a diagnosis (varying types of proteins, other enzymes related to organ function, etc.). Along with that, there is a relatively safe procedure called a rectal mucosal biopsy, where the vet reaches into the anus rectally and obtains a very small pinch of the skin that consists of the intestinal lining (the mucosa). This is an extremely effective diagnostic tool, and if any type of intestinal cancer is present, it will be evident in the mucosal sample. Of course, she would need to be lightly sedated for this, but the procedure is safe and is done while the horse is standing. With bloodwork and the mucosal biopsy, your Vet should have a clear picture of what is (or isn't) going on.
The odor you noticed from her mouth may have just been some feed that was lodged in between her remaining teeth and gums, or in a pocket where one of her molars once was. A gum or tooth infection couldn't be ruled out either, but as the odor seems to have gone away, I wouldn't be overly concerned with that at this time.
I so wish that I could give you a fast and easy answer as to what is causing your mare's condition, but it will take some diagnostic work to get to a diagnosis. Even a basic CBC can be helpful, as varying types of white cells can have more (or less) of a presence depending on her condition. A CBC also will tell you her anemia status, if she is anemic secondary to a major problem.
What you can do for her at this point is to let her eat as much as she is comfortable with, and encourage water consumption. Also a dose of electrolytes would be helpful, due to the diarrhea. There are paste types of electrolytes designed for horses, but just be sure that she is drinking prior to giving the electrolytes, and follow the label directions. Some think that "more is better", but when it comes to electrolytes, too much can cause other severe problems.
I know this is a lot of information, but again, she is going to need some work done to get to the source of her problem. I do hope that I've been of some help, and please don't hesitate to ask any further questions.
Please let me know what you decide to do, and what the findings are should you have the diagnostics done that I've recommended.
I'll be thinking of the both of you, and wishing for only the best.
-Dan.
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.
Hello!
Just checking to see if you had any further questions.
Thanks,
-Dan.

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