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Our 6 month old calf has what it seems like a sunburn on her…

Our 6 month old calf...
Our 6 month old calf has what it seems like a sunburn on her nose. We just started putting her in our pasture to graze all day long. I am worried that it might be photosensitivity from eating a toxic weed or plant. I have no idea if we even have anything toxic on our property but after reading on the internet, that was one cause for sunburn on a cows nose. She has a pink nose and a little white on her face. Would it be more common for it to be just sun exposure over eating a toxic weed?
Thank you!!
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Answered in 3 days by:
3/24/2018
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23,185
Experience: As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
Verified

Good morning,

My apologies for my delay in reply, but I have been quite busy with my patients this week.

Now with this lesion, I agree it looks more like a photo sensitization then trauma. That said, we cannot fully exclude a ruptured blister. So, we do need to monitor this little one. And it would be ideal (if you haven't already) to move her to a shaded area. This will restrict what she has access to (so she doesnt' keep dosing herself with any suspicious plants) but also it will prevent worsening of the lesion or new ones as the sensitizing "toxin" runs its course. And as we have her in a shaded pen, you can clean this daily with a mild antiseptic (ie dilute betadine, chlorohexidine, or salt water). Afterwards, pat the area dry and apply an OTC antibiotic cream or a Blue Kote spray (apply with care of course) to just prevent infection and fly strike. And just for our peace of mind, do check her inner eyelids/gums to make sure they aren't yellow (since liver failure can also lead to this but less likely at her age unless she got into something really toxic)

Otherwise it can be tricky if we don't know what plants are in the field. St. Johns wort is a notorious culprit but other plants to be on the look out for (consider googling these and then comparing them to what you have in the pasture) are Queen Anne’s lace, Parsley, Buckwheat, Bermuda or rye grass, lantana, Brachiaria or Panicum. And usually it is calves that suffer with these since they are more likely to choose plants to eat that adult cattle would not eat (plus it takes a smaller dose for their size to cause signs). But as long as she hasn't damaged her liver, they usually respond to conservative care to give her body time to remove the agent, heal her nose, and avoid worsening by the sun in the meantime.

Kind regards,

Dr. B

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I ended up rushing her to the vet hospital. It did affect her liver as she started turning jaundice. I’m praying we caught it early enough that she will survive. Is there a possibility that she can still survive with it being secondary? She had a liver biopsy and we are waiting for the results. She is so young that I can’t imagine her not surviving since we caught it so early.

Good afternoon,

The poor love! It does depend how what she had (how much/its toxicity), how severe the liver damage was (its quite a resilient organ) and how she responds to treatment. So, it sounds like you are on the right track and hopefully the liver biopsy will just come back as inflamed tissue as opposed to necrosis (tissue death) and she will improve with treatment since you have acted so quickly here.

Best wishes for you both,

Dr. B.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you for easing my mind. The internet makes me think that she is just going to die and there isn’t hope. She is at Texas A&M which is one of the best hospitals in the US. I understand now a little more after Your explanation. So I thank you for that. Here is a photo of her yesterday when I went to visit. She sucked my arm the entire time.

Awwh, she is such a cutie. :)

You are right, the internet can give a skewed picture of situations like this. But the key thing to remember is that she is in the right place and they will do all they can for her. As well, the bloods they checked (which they should be able to show you) will tell you how severely hurt the liver is. That is something they can monitor as they treat and that will be a gauge to know how the liver is recovering. And again if we had to pick an organ to be harmed, I have to say the liver is probably the best one since it is able to regenerate even in the face of quite significant damage and the one we'd have the most hope for recovering in a situation like this.

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Last question. I promise. How long does it usually take for the blood work to start reacting to treatment if the treatment is going to work?

No worries,

It varies by liver enzyme (as they check a few) but generally speaking they can peak 1-2 days post toxic insult and then we'd hope to see some reduction by 7-10 days. Of course, it can take longer to get back down into the normal range but we'd want to see some reduction (and certainly no increase).

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Ok good. Her levels and her ultrasound has stayed the same meaning not increasing but haven’t really come down yet. She has only been on IV treatment for 2 days so that’s good it can take longer. Thank you!!! I will update you when we know.

You are very welcome, my dear.

Please do keep me posted on how you both get on. :)

Best wishes,

Dr. B.

Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23,185
Experience: As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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Hi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. B.
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