Sick Horse - Any thoughts?

Last Sunday my mare came in for breakfast and wouldn’t eat. When I temped her, she had a fever of 105.1. It took us all day to get her fever down, it actually got higher before it broke Monday morning. That Sunday she was understandable lethargic and grinding her teeth all day.

Since Monday, even though she had had NO fever, she has had horrible GI symptoms. She will not pass manure for long periods of time, then she will pass small amounts or pass frequently. She has basically had ever bowel movement pattern possible in one week.

The first few days, I could not get her to eat without banamine and then she would be in a lot of pain, grinding her teeth and showing colic symptoms after eating. She is now eating her feed, which is a cereal grain-free ration balancer from Progressive Nutrition.

Her stomach pain is beginning to develop a pattern. She initially was in pain almost all day. Now she will graze half the day, start to lie down the second half, and increase her duration of being down (no thrashing). Eventually, she does start to cramp, circle, go down and eventually try to thrash. She gets her banamine and is fine again. Initially, she was getting banamine at least 2 times a day, now she is down to one and seems to be needing it later in the day (hopefully, this is progess!).

She is also very gassy, especially at night, and it smells sour.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this? The vet is thinking she had a virus when she had the fever, she fought it off, and the stress irritated ulcers.

She is on gastroguard, maalox, probiotics, aloe vera juice and something called miracle clay (a great product!). When checked, her gut sounds are very active. She has been tubed, had rectal exams and ultra sounds. Her blood work came back normal.

This week, she has been symptomatically all over the place. I have no idea what to think.


Right dorsal colitis? Jingles.

I would say anaplasmosis or Potomac Horse Fever. The bowel issues could be as a result of high fever; if a horse feels bad they may stop eating and drinking…

Just went through this myself. All tests (anaplasmosis, Lyme, PHF) were negative, although obviously it was something - a 105F fever is a big symptom.

I’d be thinking along the lines of viral illness causing colic symptoms versus the other way around.

FWIW, my mare was treated with 3 days of IV antibiotics and IM banamine, as well as some gastroguard and probiotic to make sure her gut was protected from the meds/stress.

I second right dorsal colitis. I went through something very similar in February - fever of unknown origins treated with banamine, followed by a period of abnormal bowel movements, two instances of colic that required a vet to examine (with more banamine) and five weeks after the fever, at the U with diagnosed RDC.


The right dorsal colitis makes sense. A few questions:

  1. how do you diagnose? What I read said a blood test would show it, but her blood test was normal.

  2. would it make sense that she is slowly getting better? She is by no means 100%, but she has now gone 36 hours without banamine (initially, she needed it every 6-12 hours).

Thanks for the input!

I don’t think it is as simple as doing a blood test to rule in or rule out. I personally would treat her as if she had it because the diet change won’t hurt her if she doesn’t. All pelleted feed, including hay pellets. No grain or hay. Most importantly, no more NSAIDS.

Could be Leptosporosis, did you have blood pulled?

My 3yr old filly was a little like this couple weeks ago. She has a problem anyway, a partial obstruction in her large intestine which she has had at least a year. Couple weeks ago she had a temperature and was colicky (constantly getting up and down, looking at belly and pawing ground) and was only doing little bits of poo when she first started and then hardly any for three days, a small piles every 8 hours or so. She didn’t have an impaction in normal place. She needed strong painkiller to stop her being colicky and when it wore off after 12 hours she was colicky again. Vet said it could of been a localised peritonitis as her bloods were normal. She had a week of pain killers and antibiotics and hasnt been colicky or had a temp since.
Have you tried not giving your horse grass? Could grass or gas from the grass be iritating something? You say she is worse in the evening after eating. Does the same thing happen on hay?