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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 lost some weight ( which she actually needed to

Customer Question

my horse has lost some weight ( which she actually needed to lose) but just looks like she doesn't feel great. Yesterday I was trail riding & she fell (stumbled) to the ground. front feet went under her & also back feet, her nose hit the dirt, after we got her up we noticed she was not picking her feet up very well , sort of dragging her front toes. This has been a very healthy horse, fed very well & cared for.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 5 months ago.

Good Evening, and thank you for the question concerning Colina. I am sorry to hear about your recent problems with her; it sounds frustrating, and I can see that you’re worried! I have a few questions that I’d like to ask you regarding Colina, so that we might get some clues as to what might be going on with her.

1): How long has Colina been with you?

2): Where are you located?

3): When did you first notice her weight loss, and has it been gradual or rapid?

4): When was she last examined by her Vet?

5): Do you vaccinate her, and if so, against what (West Nile, 4-Way, Flu, etc.)?

6): What does her normal diet consist of, and is she on any additional supplements, vitamins or minerals?

7): Any diarrhea, coughing, or notable health problems recently?

8): When did she last have any dental work done?

Thanks, ***** *****’m looking forward to hearing from you.

-Dan C., DVM.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I've had her for 2 years
Central Illinois
Started about a month or so ago not slow not fast
She was palpated for pregnancy in April
She has not had vaccines for two years as she is 23 and has plenty of titers from having them all her life
She is on the best food in the world as my business is horse nutrition and I developed my own feed because there wasn't anything good out there my feed has all the vitamins and minerals she needs all my other horses are of excellent condition and she still is not in bad condition
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
She does not have any other signs she is healthy otherwise
Her teeth were done last year by a dentist
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 5 months ago.

Thanks for getting back to me, and also, thanks for the thorough answers to my questions. Apologies for the delay in my response, it has turned into a very busy day (horses and fireworks are not a good mix….)!

How is Colina doing today? Have you ridden her since her initial stumbling episode, and if so, is she still having a difficult time?

As far as her weight loss, there are a myriad of reasons that could be contributing to that, as I’m sure you well know, especially with your nutrition background. I certainly won’t put dietary issues on the rule-out list. Also, there are no outward telltale signs of any type of abnormality, and we can exclude dental problems as well. With all of that in mind, it leads me to consider the possibility of several possible causes: a metabolic problem, such as organ malfunction/failure, chronic pain (due to the possibility of a developing arthritis, which could also account for her stumbling, and chronic pain can also contribute to weight loss due to the amount of energy required to endure the discomfort), or a remote possibility of certain types of cancer, which, unfortunately, is becoming more common in older horses.

What I would recommend you consider would be to start with basic bloodwork (CBC, Serum Chemistry and Fibrinogen), as well as a thorough physical and lameness exam, with emphasis on her major joints to assess any pain responses. I will normally do a series of flexion tests, especially hocks, fetlocks and carpi. Should she test positive for pain, following up with radiographs would be a great aid in determining if Colina is developing arthritis, or normal wear/cartilage loss within the joint spaces. Based on your replies, I’m sure that she is kept well trimmed and/or shod, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

Just completing the testing mentioned above, may very well clue you in as to what may be the cause(s) of her concerns.

There are, of course, certain disease that can contribute to all that you are seeing with Colina, such as West Nile and EPM. As it sounds as if she is in good shape as far as vaccination titers, I highly doubt West Nile to be an issue, however I wouldn’t rule out EPM, which, by the way, is much easier to test for now than it was a few years ago. I’d also recommend considering this if you decide to do the bloodwork, etc.

So as is apparent, there are multiple possibilities to consider when faced with Colina’s concerns.

If you have more specific questions concerning anything I suggested, please feel free to let me know. I’m here to help, and want to do the best possible job that I can for you and Colina. If you wish to discuss things on the phone, that is an option as well, but I feel that I’ve covered the basics as far as where to start diagnostically.

I’d appreciate knowing which direction you decide to go with her, if you have the time and desire. One of the frustrating things for me with this type of forum is never hearing back from my online “patients”, which often leaves me wondering how things have turned out.

Again, thanks for contacting me, and please let me know if I can be of any further help.

All the best to you and Colina,

-Dan C., DVM.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
With the research I've done and knowing my horse my guess would be Lyme's disease what's your thoughts on that it was Saturday when we rode and she stumbled and went down this is like something has been going on the last month or so so I really doubt if it's arthritis unless it is pain caused from something like a disease
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
23 isn't that old she's a Paso fino my other horses lived well into their thirties and Im still riding a 26 year old who is in excellent condition although she does have some arthritis. They both get joint supplement
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 5 months ago.

Certainly wouldn’t hurt to look (although it isn’t easy to test for and get a definitive diagnosis)! Is there a prevalence of LD in your area? It can present in a multitude of ways. There are some things that could be an indicator of it in the basic CBC, such as anemia and variances in the white blood cell count and types.

And yes, I agree with you that 23 isn’t “old” these days for horses, due to the advances in care, but even with joint supplements, etc., DJD can still become an issue, even in much younger horses.

I’m certainly not trying to diagnose Corina, as that’s an impossibility due to this forum. My job here is to offer you suggestions. I look at each question that I answer and think in terms of what I would do if it were my horse. I won’t rule out anything until I have proof or a strong reassurance that it isn’t part of the problem.

-Dan C., DVM.