Groundhog Day: Teeth & Sinus Edition

Earlier this month, I kept thinking I needed to post an Eli update. Things had been going fairly well! He got his regular stifle injections, and he even had a routine dental appointment just last week. I had noticed he had developed some mild nasal drainage, mostly clear, both nostrils … he had no fever and his vet suggested he could go back on hydroxyzine. It seemed a bit early for his fall and winter allergies to crop up, but we have had a wet mild summer so who knows what allergens could have been blooming.

And then this past Wednesday Eli had what appeared to be a bout of very mild colic at dinner … except it lasted about 5 minutes. By the time the barn owner/trainer got there and I got there, Eli seemed very normal, interested in eating, pooped, no indications of colic. Weird, but maybe he needs a round of ulcer meds?

I started contacting his vet and the pharmacy about getting the ulcer meds, and we modified his diet yet again to more alfalfa, less grain as his vet thinks long-term for Eli the less grain the better. And I even rode him Thursday, as he seemed totally fine. I’ve been taking his temperature daily due to the off-and-on nasal drainage, and it’s been right around 99.4-99.6F. He actually felt quite lovely under saddle as I am sure the stifle injections helped him quite a bit as they always do.

And then I get to the barn on Friday. Eli was eating his alfalfa but had not touched his grain at all. (I say grain — it’s Purina Senior, a fortified pellet so, no, it’s not grain exactly.) He looked a good bit miserable. His nose, just on one side, had super gross, thick drainage. Opaque, yellow and green, smelled acrid. I pulled him out and took his temperature, which was 101.6. Just above the high end of normal but definitely high for him. This was Friday just after 5 and I kind of waffled for a few minutes about whether I really needed to call the vet yet but thankfully a fellow ammy checked me and said it’s never wrong to call. The on-call vet has seen Eli before – I described what was going on and he provided some options. I had no ride to the clinic so I did ask him to come out to the farm. The elevated temperature concerned me the most and certainly the snot indicated an infection. I wasn’t sure what kind of medicines were on hand at the barn (and they’d be way more expensive to buy from the barn rather than the vet anyway) and based on Eli’s history of ulcers I wasn’t sure what kind of anti-inflammatories he could get to address his temperature. And knowing what I know about Eli, I asked the vet to bring the xray machine. (Back in 2015, Eli had a tooth extracted and a stubborn sinus infection – my 2021 is very Groundhog Day (film) and this just kind of goes with the rest of it, oh well!)

Guess who had to be sedated SOLELY for the vet to spray alcohol on his sides in preparation for a thoracic ultrasound?

The vet arrived really quickly and began evaluating Eli. He did pull bloodwork, and I have not heard back about it, so I am assuming no news is good news. He also did a thoracic ultrasound and Eli’s lungs looked clear. The vet said the infection smelled bacterial and we went forward with the head xrays. Eli has at least one (the chipped tooth which now looks broken), possibly two teeth that need to come out. His sinus shows stuff in it (probably snot). Uggghhhhhh my poor horse. I feel so bad that he is going through this again!

Eli is started on antibiotics, which I have to mix with applesauce and water and syringe into his mouth as he absolutely would not touch the pellets with the antibiotic mixed in. He is being pretty good about it, though. He gets this twice a day, so I am making two trips a day to the barn for now. The on-call vet mentioned the dental specialist may be at the clinic soon, but another vet has also been doing a lot of dental work. I will have more information on Monday when I call the clinic to see what’s available. The on-call vet also said going forward as planned with the ulcer treatment would be a good idea, especially since Eli is now on antibiotics and may need NSAIDs after whatever dental procedures take place.

The good news is since he is on antibiotics, his temperature has been gradually coming down and was 100.2F this morning. Still a bit high for him but not as alarming to me. He struggles to chew the Purina Senior and won’t touch his Outlast, but he is managing to eat his alfalfa and hay pretty well and definitely still wants hand grazing time. I hose him off in the evening, too, to help keep his temperature under control. I don’t think the nasal drainage will stop until after the teeth come out. Sadly, I think the teeth are pretty painful for him right now, too, so my hope is that he can have these teeth out as soon as possible before the end of this week.

On a slightly random note, when I was discussing ulcer meds with Eli’s regular vet and asked some way-out-in-left-field questions, he suggested genetic testing through Etalon Diagnostics. So I have sent off some of Eli’s mane with the roots (hopefully enough – yanking mane out of this one is a bit dicey) and I have already forgotten what the website said their turnaround time was but I don’t think it was too long, like a week maybe? One of the things on the form to fill out, which was not required to be filled out, was temperament – just a scale of 1 to 10 … I did not fill that part out. How in the world do I characterize this horse’s temperament based on a number? Chill but also zero chill? Spooks at humans but not tractors or water trucks or plastic bags or weird jumps? Will bite out of love? Body clips easily but don’t come near him with a spray bottle? Also, is 10 good/1 bad or 1 good/10 bad? What number equals quirky AF? I am not too interested in the color genetics and his ancestry is pretty obvious considering he has a lip tattoo but the health stuff I am super curious about!

6 thoughts on “Groundhog Day: Teeth & Sinus Edition

  1. Oh no! Poor Eli! That sucks about his teeth. At least you know what the issue is and it should be a relatively smooth sailing once those teeth are out. (altho this is horses, when is it ever smooth sailing? lol) hopefully he’ll start feeling better soon!

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