Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My horse has a fat head. Well, mouth and esophagus, mostly.

Pictures first for readers with short attention spans:

Here is the worst of the swelling. This is the lymph nodes underneath her jaw, and some other lump pictured just below them. The asymmetry is what makes me especially nervous about this. The lymph nodes are soft to the touch, while the darker lump below is extremely firm.

Here I've drawn a circle around the area that concerns me most.

Although her off side was initially the most swollen, the only picture that really shows the swelling on her muzzle is the near side.
It's very difficult to see in photographs, and I also think it looks somewhat better than it did. But you can still see a peculiar notch in the middle of her upper lip where the swelling end. She's then swollen from that notch back to the corner of her mouth as outlined below.
The swelling around her mouth is extremely firm to the touch, and she also violently objects to any probing. She's usually a little bit cautious about hands around her mouth, but she has never been reactive like she's been since this swelling cropped up.

Here is the other side of her mouth for comparison. You can't tell from the picture, but it is swollen back at the corner of her mouth as well, fairly symmetrically. However, it doesn't have that funky notch in it like the other side.

Something else very noticeable in these pictures are Halo's lovely warts. She got them from the mustang filly she's out in the field with. To my knowledge, these are just regular juvenile warts and should drop off in 1-3 months.

The area she was very swollen in on Saturday that had me really alarmed was her right cheek. It looked fine to me tonight, but maybe one of my enlightened readers will see something odd that I wasn't able to distinguish. Honestly at this point I'm so paranoid I'm likely to hallucinate a hole in her head.

The picture below outlines the area that was formerly quite swollen.

She's had some or all of this swelling happening since last Wednesday. I was out of town the weekend before, so unfortunately I didn't see her then and don't know when it all started. The only thing that has changed since then is the warts. I wormed her last Wednesday with Panacur, but she was already swollen at that point. 

Her symptoms are limited:

- No temperature.
- Lymph node swelling.
- Jaw swelling.
- Muzzle swelling near the mouth.
- She's eating and drinking normally.
- No nasal discharge other than occasionally a little bit of clear (like in the wart picture).
- She did have some lymph node swelling when I first bought her, but she was put on antibiotics and nothing ever came of it.
- She's out on 24-7 turnout in a pasture that could have pretty much any sort of native central Texas plant in it. She gets 1/2 flake of alfalfa and 1/2 scoop of Equine Junior each day.

WTF is going on with my horse?!

My thoughts are:

a. Allergies.
b. A dental issue (probably would have been my first reaction if she were older).
c. Strangles or some other upper respiratory issue. (PLEASE GOD NO!)
d. Bee sting or other insect (seems like it would have gone down more by now).

 The vet is coming on Friday to take a look at her, but if anyone has thoughts or ideas, it always eases my mind to do some research. Okay, so "eases" may be the wrong word, but at least it gives me something to do with all my nervous energy!


meg said...

From the horsey friends in the ag lounge today:

Lymph node swelling they've seen pretty much whenever their horses are fighting off bacteria, viruses, or have been stung or bitten by something that they reacted badly to.

Venomous and non-venomous snakes if the horse is allergic to them can cause pretty bad prolonged swelling throughout the entire muscle that was bitten...usually the masseter muscles on the cheeks.

A cyst or teething problems was brought up, but it's on both sides of the face and she's not even 2 1/2 yet so I'm assuming not teething again...

No pus-y or thick discharge means probably not strangles or sinusitis or a fungal infection.


Not a clue what's up with her, but I'm leaning toward a bite or sting that she reacted badly towards. Anyway, I've only dealt with old cranky lesson horse issues, and I know nothing about the young'uns (as much as I wish I did...). I'd say go check some of this stuff out. Doesn't seem too bad, really, but I'm sure the vet will be able to reassure you of that!

Leah Fry said...

I don't have a clue, but hope it gets resolved quickly and inexpensively!