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Help with diagnosis

This is really difficult to write and may get a little graphic but I’m trying my best to figure out what killed my Belgian boy Henry (17yo) yesterday, as I’m worried about my other 2 horses and 2 donkeys.

Friday 10am (reg feed time) Mixed Ivermectin paste (correct dosage) into his feed (safe choice senior) and a scoop of AntiHist H supplement. Same ivermectin given to my 25 yo mare.

Friday 12.30 pm he’s down and stayed down. He’s a very reactive horse so it was unlike him to let me get close when he was down. Temp was 100.0. Respiratory rate 30pm. He would
calmly lay down, flat out or with his head up. No gut noise but passing gas when laying down completely flat.

Friday 1.30pm after walking a little called vet, 12ml
of liquid banamine given orally and administered Equine Gut Flush. Gums normal color.

Friday night. Did not eat or drink. Offered electro light water. Standing up for longer periods and sniffing grass like he wanted to eat but didn’t. Passed manure that looked normal
6pm. Vet unable to make visit but communicated via txt all
night. banamine 12ml administered orally at 11pm. Temp normal gums normal

Saturday 9am Did not eat or drink. Laying down and occasionally groaning, he did seem to be more alert and like himself, didn’t want me to get close when he was down. Walking briskly, head down. Vet updated and administered 12ml banamine given orally . Drank a lot from his trough.

Saturday 12 noon checked and he was down but had passed more manure

2pm, turn for worst starts to get up and down more frequently, and is visibly uncomfortable. Pacing, head down and gassy. Gums pale. Temp 101, breaths per
min 40. Vet called and told her She needed to
be here ASAP

3pm walking, throwing head up and down, passed small
amount of manure, visibly in pain when passing manure and gas. Some visible belly spasms/cramps, penis out like he wanted to urinate, but spasms so strong when his gut flexed his extended penis flex and touch his stomach .

3.30-4.30 Rapid decline. Head low and would raise to cough, Yellow discharge pouring from right nostril
after cough. foaming of mouth. One minute he wasn’t sweating, the next he starts to drip from his belly, top of legs, neck and face. Breathing rapid and heavy, groaning, gums, tongue and penis start to turn purple. Call vet again to see what I can do to ease his pain. She said administer more banamine. Leave my husband holding him
so I could run into the house and get banamine, literally as I’m walking away I hear a load groan and see him collapse.
2 mins later he took 2 deep breaths and passed away.

Obviously devastated. Did the ivermectin cause a colic and gut twist/ burst? Was this an allergic reaction?

He has no known illnesses, was up to date on shots. He did fall on this left side whilst running around freaking out his mare was being clipped 7 days ago, he got back up
like nothing happened. He also got kicked
in the stomach a few days ago but was fine afterwards. He always had sensitive skin, hated the FL bugs. He did have a 4 inch skin wound on his lower leg that needed no stitches and was treated by vet with steroid shot, we would also treat daily with silver spray or wonder dust but even after 8 weeks
would not fully heal. He had itchy inner ears for the last 8 weeks, hence the histamine supplement. my mare also has itchy inner ears that are bloody - hence why I was using ivermectin on the both of them in the hopes off killing off any parasites .

i know there can be no fully conclusive diagnosis unless we did an autopsy which wasn’t mentioned by the vet, but if anyone has experienced similar I would be grateful for your opinion.

im kicking myself for not calling a different vet to get them out on Friday at the first sign of colic. But I’m just trying to learn from this and hope it isn’t something toxic he ate that the rest of the Herd can get sick from.

If you want to know what happened (I certainly would) then you get your vet to do a necropsy.

Otherwise we are all just guessing.



That’s not possible. At the time I had lost it, by husband spoke to vet who only recommended someone to dig the Grave this

Then it will remain a mystery.


I would ask attending vet for their best guess. I expect your real question is, did the wormer kill him?

Or did something like a strangulating lymphoma just happen to catch up to him?

Sounds like a colic with reflux. Similar to a mare I had as a child but hers was much faster, we got her to a vet hospital and she died on the table, her stomach had ruptured.

So so so sorry. I would be getting a very different vet. Mine has me pull all feed immediately until horse is normal, and I would have wanted the horse tubed after the Banamine didn’t work initially.


I have never heard of continuing feed if colic symptoms persist, Im shocked that your vet did not want to come out and at the least do a rectal exam and tube after the banamine didnt work. That being said, it is a horrible situation and I am so sorry for your loss. The biggest of hugs and jingles to you and the rest of your herd ❤❤


It sounds more like a colic that wasn’t treated appropriately. It may not have changed the eventual outcome but I do not think this was treated as it should have been and I would be finding a new vet.


I’m sorry you lost your big friend. It’s terrible to feel you should have done something different, but sometimes despite all we do, we lose them anyway.

Since a necropsy was not done, it’s not possible to know for sure what caused his death, but since your other animals are not affected at this time it’s unlikely it was a contagious illness or something in your environment that could affect them.

I agree with the suggestions to choose a new vet, preferably one that is board certified for equine practice. Horses are incredibly complicated creatures.

This. Fire your vet. I am sorry for your loss, but this was handled very badly. Your horse needed real medical intervention, not just banamine. Since the horse was pooping, this was likely a twisted or displaced colon that eventually paralyzed his intestines, which led to the reflux you witnessed. Colic surgery was likely necessary. As for what caused it, it was probably just bad luck.


It doesnt sound like an allergic reaction to Ivermectin. More like a twist.


Very sorry for your loss, OP.

Vet should’ve been there at 1:30 on Friday instead of administering that “Equine Gut Flush” hokum. Horses needed an NGT passed, rectal exam and possibly some anti spasmotic meds as well as effective administration of IV NSAIDs. Frankly when I hear literally ‘no gut sounds’, I consider it an emergent situation.

Also, a radical change in behavior, i.e.: not usually allowing you to approach, yet remaining down for you to get temp and respiration as indicators that something major is going on.

No, the ivermectin had nothing to do with it. What took your horse was an untreated colic.


Thanks for all your input. My heart is just broken into pieces thinking he suffered at all. Finding new vet - if anyone has any recommendations for Lakeland Area Florida ?

Anyone reading this, please note horses can pass manure even with impaction or obstruction, there’s a whole lot of yards of gut and the “ downstream” material will still come out, often very painfully. The no gut sounds is the big alarm bell. Had one like that turn out to be tied up which shut the gut down, thank God my vet had the capability to immediately run a blood sample at his office a mile away and did not assume anything. Save the horses life by treating what was wrong, not a symptom.

Did this vet not tube the horse on the first visit? That’s a very old but proven and still pretty standard protocol, not some feed through remedy that takes a day and may not get through anyway.

Doubt the wormer has anything to do with it since he’s had it before and the others got it. Sorry you lost him and had such a struggle trying to help him. And, yes, it is new vet time.


It sounds like an untreated colic, more than likely his stomach ruptured. However, without a necropsy its really all just guessing. I’m sorry for your loss. You need a new vet pronto.

Even if surgery wouldn’t have been an option for this horse, you might want to have a practice with a clinic and surgical team available for these kinds of emergencies. Here, we would probably have sent this horse to the hospital to see if non-surgical medical management could resolve it, where the horse could be seen and treated regularly. But your vet should have done a more thorough exam to try to figure out if a twist or displacement was likely.

I have access to several ambulatory vets that could do an initial assessment and periodic monitoring of the horse, but they are quick to refer to one of the hospitals if anything more needs to be done or considered (frequent monitoring, other kinds of testing such as belly tap, surgery). Those who live in more remote areas would have just shipped to a clinic if the horse had not improved with the initial basic treatment or if that would be faster than trying to get a vet to make a farm call.

A search shows that Brandon Equine Medical Center serves your area and has a fairly full service clinic.


It could have been a strangulating lipoma. There would have been little you could do other than put him down sooner. Hugs and jingles. Brandon Equine is a great clinic

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Been there myself and my horses vitals were normal as well. Only on internal exam did vet find an impaction,

So sorry OP . What an awful thing to go through. Your vet should have been out immediately or had you find another vet to see the horse. Symptoms going on for days is something a good vet would address asap.

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Any vet who thought administering “Equine Gut Flush” (first listed active ingredient: catnip) instead of making an emergency farm call that afternoon was the right approach at 1:30 p.m. Friday would have lost all my business right then and there, starting with phone calls to other vets immediately.

IME vets can’t always tell what’s going on with a colic when they come to the farm, but they have lots of clues they can piece together to decide how to treat the colic and whether euthanasia might be the most humane option. Basic vitals, checking for reflux, feeling for anatomical anomalies with a rectal exam, ultrasonography of certain abdominal structures, timing how long it takes for a distressed horse to “blow through” sedation – all of these can help to make informed decisions about the odds of recovery and the options that should be considered in deciding how to proceed. And IV analgesics/sedation are usually far more effective for making a colicky horse comfortable than oral banamine, which is why it’s always worth the emergency vet call to me – regardless of how bad the outcome is, I want it to involve the least amount of physical misery that is possible for my horse.

OP, what you’ve described sounds exactly like what you might expect to happen if an obstruction or intestinal lesion (from any of a number of causes – displacement, torsion, impaction, strangulation) is not treated (or not treatable, and euthanasia isn’t elected). I’m really sorry you had to go through that. Colic is horrible. I hope you find a better vet.


My God, that is tragic. I am so sorry. It does sound like he coliced. It may have been an impaction (yes, they can pass manure with an impaction) or a twist, among other things. I’m stunned at how your vet handled it. Big hugs.