I have a Canadian thoroughbred mare whom I bought 6 years ago. She has what appears to be "scratches" on her back legs - large black lumpy crusts that bleed and twice she has come down with sever lympangitis or celluitis (spent time in vet school hospital both times). We have tried everything. She had a bioposy sent to Forida vet lab for diagonosis with no results. I make a concoction of Furizone, DMSO, Penicillin, and Dex, which I put on in an overnight sweat. I live in Oregon and I keep my place pristine of mud and water. She is beded on a pelleted horse or wood pellet bedding. Also her hair on her back legs is slowly turning white? Do you have any suggestions? The only time I have had any real lasting results was when she was put on Ampicillin - but my vet is reluctant to put her on it due to cost and he thinks it won't work. Thanks!
Pet's Gender: FemalePet's Age: 12Type of Animal: Horse - thoroughbred
Several types of antibiotic (oral), topical fungal oitments, cortisone creams, tea tree medication which is one of the better over the counter topicals. I have also tried leg wraps in case of fly allergies and sunblocks such as zinc oxide in case of sun sensitivity. I do get results using a furizone/DMSO/penicillin sweat. The swelling in her fetlocks goes down drastically and the crusts seem to shrink down. They have formed black "lines" on the underside of her heels. When you peel them off (they are painful for her) they contain hair.
Hello,CustomerI'm sorry to hear about your mare's condition. These types of skin problems are indeed very frustrating, to say the least. I have a few questions to ask you in order to help.1): How long has this problem been present?2): How long ago was she on the Ampicillin, and what was the approximate length of time before the problem returned following treatment?3): Was the biopsy inconclusive? Do you recall if there were any predominant cell types?4): Has your vet ever run any type of bloodwork?4): How is her general health and weight otherwise?Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX'm looking forward to hearing from you.
1): How long has this problem been present? Six years. This summer it seems to have gotten worse and the usual methods we have used to controll it in the past seem to not be working.2): How long ago was she on the Ampicillin, and what was the approximate length of time before the problem returned following treatment?She had three injections of ampicillin for a cold that was going around our hunter/jumper horse show. She had a fevor and yellow snotty nose, so we pulled her from the show and the on-call vet prescribed the ampicillin. The next afternoon he stopped by with some oral, genimycine? I think. The morning of her third injection, my daughter and I both noticed that her fetlocks and lowere legs were "skinny". We had never seen them so slender and it was a shock to realize how occustomed we had become to them "puffy". I'm a very experienced horse owned and worked on the race track for years. I am probably much more experienced medical wise then most owners.3): Was the biopsy inconclusive? Do you recall if there were any predominant cell types? The biopsy showed nothing. My vet was concerned about anti-biotic resistant staph.4): Has your vet ever run any type of bloodwork? OSU vet school ran blood work and it showed nothing except elevated white blood cells. This was when she developed lymphangitis/celluitis. She got the same thing in the same hind leg one week after we bought her. The leg swelled up into her hip and we almost lost her. Also when she came from Canada she had "scratches" on all four legs up to hocks and knees. The current infection is located mostly on her heels in horizontal rows - like creases of skin. Actually, today she looks much better and alott of the scabs are breaking off. The penicillin sweat had an imediate effect in that it took down the fetlock/cannon bone swelling overnight in the stall. Ever since this last bought with lymp/cell. which occured in the same hind leg now twice, the swelling never completely went away. OSU didn't seem concerned but I was and am. Also she was on (13 pills morning and night) of SMZ-TMP antibiotic for 3 months after the celluitis/lymp infection.4): How is her general health and weight otherwise? Otherwise this mare is health and happy. She has been a hunter (3'6") for 4 years and has gone on to carry me around at the 3' level. She isn't sick normally, is sound, and I don't give her anything special - a general vitamin, timothy/alfalfa, pasture in the summer. She is never in mud ( quite a challange in our area) and regularly is ridden in the hills on trails. My fear is that this infection will eventually result in a infection that kills her. This last time I turned her out in the morning, went to coffee and walk the dog, came home 1 1/2 later and she was down and in horrible pain. It was all I could do using a whip to get into the trailor and to the vet. Durning the time I loaded her and he looked at her, the leg was swelling into her stifle. Next time, I might be gone longer and I'm afraid it will kill her. She is a lovely mare, sweet and kind and she has shown AAA hunter shows in Oregon, WA, and CA for my daughter as a Junior Hunter and now me. She is very special, I hope you have some suggestions. Thank-you!
HiCustomer and thanks for getting back to me:Thanks for the great details and history. This type of condition is extremely frustrating to deal with, as I have several patients that have somewhat similar conditions, however some of them are also well under control. This condition is often an immune-mediated problem, meaning that the horse has developed an allergic reaction to itself, so to speak. Although the problem can't be "cured", it can be controlled by inhibiting the horse's immune system. You mentioned that the bloodwork revealed a high white cell count. Depending on the type of white cell that was elevated, that result can have various meanings. When dealing with an auto-immune problem, very often the predominant white cell will be the eosinophil, along with the neutrophil if there is an infection present. This would also be the case in a skin biopsy. It's curious that your horse's biopsy showed nothing, as there must have been some tissue present. It may have been inconclusive, meaning that there was nothing particularly abnormal. It can often take more than one sample to acheive a diagnosis, so that may be something for you to consider.As I mentioned above, the goal is to inhibit the immune system, and one of the more effective ways of acheiving that is through the use of steroids. Steroids have earned a bad name among many people, but that is due to the wide-spread misuse of the drug. When used properly, steroids can be extremely helpful in many instances. In my experience, I have used them to get this particular condition under control, and have been able to achieve a maintenence-type program with the horse, where they are used only if there is a severe recurrence. What I'd recommend considering is to discuss with your vet the possibility of repeating the skin biopsy and bloodwork to determine your horse's current status. If the results point to an auto-immune condition, talk with your vet about the possibility of a trial course of prednisolone, along with an antibiotic (perhaps the Ampicillin as that seemed to be helpful for you). (It is recommended that liver status be determined prior to using steroids, however that can be done with the submitted blood sample.)As your horse's case is severe, I think it would certainly be worth a try. A trial course wouldn't hurt, and there's a good chance that there would be positive results.I hope I've been of some help, and please let me know if you have any further questions. Also, keep me posted if you have the time!Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX of luck.-Dan
Owner/solo practitioner of a mobile Equine Veterinary practice for 11 years. Accomplished rider.