The events of April 30 blur together, but there are vivid images from that day that will forever be seared into my memory. I received a call at about 10:00am from my wonderful barn owner, telling me Tazzy was running a high fever and she thought he was foundering. I immediately asked her to call the vet as I left work early to drive the 30 minutes to the barn.
When I got to the barn, Tazzy was in bad shape. His temperature was at 103, he had white diarrhea dribbled down his legs and tail, he was displaying the typical founder stance, and looked miserable. His eyes were distant and far, his head hung low. Ten years together, and I had never seen my buddy this ill. The vet arrived, checked all of his symptoms and gave a preliminary diagnosis of ehrlichia, which is spread by ticks and can cause founder-like symptoms. We pulled blood to be sure, but some fluids, antibiotics, and icing of the feet would do the trick.
Six hours later, he was as miserable as ever, standing in a tub of ice water. His fever was still running at 103, he was not eating or drinking, and could barely hold himself up. The vet was called back out, and after further discussion and diagnosis, we considered Potomac Horse Fever. Our battle was now two-fold: fighting whatever caused his illness, and stopping the laminitis.
Base-line X-rays were done so we could correctly assess what damage, if any was occurring in his hooves. He was placed on pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, fluids to fight dehydration, antibiotics to fight infection, and a vasodilator to help with circulation. To make administration of medications easier, he had a catheter placed in his neck. He was to stand in ice water to decrease inflammation for as long as possible.
Twelve hours after the first phone call, we finally were able to lower his temperature using acupuncture. He would spend the next 4 days standing in a tub full of sand and ice water, and under 24 hour surveillance. Despite finally having the fever break, our battle had just begun.