Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Adventures With the Vet

Poor Midnight. That goofy guy hasn't been eating properly for a couple of weeks now, and we were starting to worry. He had begun to pick up weight when we started feeding him senior food--he is 23, after all--but was losing again, so we called in the vet. A quick look in Midnight's mouth, and out came the sedative needle. This time I knew what to expect, so I wasn't surprised when the big guy put his head on my shoulder and started to lean and drool.
After hosing Midnight's mouth out thoroughly with a couple of ten-gallon syringes full of water, the vet stuck his hand in and tried to figure out if anything was lodged in his cheeks. Nope. So out comes the funny bridle thing again, and he cranks it open. Midnight's tongue flails, then droops. Vet pokes around with his fingers, then with a screwdriver (I swear, I'm not making this up!), but finds nothing. Off with the bridle. He replaces it with a piece of ribbed plastic tubing that allows him to examine the front teeth.

Finally, the vet spots the likely culprit--a small cavity right at the gumline behind one of the upper incisors. The gum has become infected. A ten-day course of antibiotics is prescribed, after which we'll evaluate whether the tooth gets filled or pulled.

I'm wondering how, exactly, does one give pills--eight big ones, twice a day--to a horse? Vet says, "Just dissolve them in some water in this syringe to make a paste, poke it up his cheek, and squeeze." OK. Sounds easy enough.

So I lead Midnight back toward his stall. It's like leading a 950-pound, drunken sailor, only Midnight doesn't try to sing. He wobbles and sways, head down, but manages OK until we get to where the path goes downhill for a bit. Uh oh... His feet start going faster and faster, the swaying gets more and more alarming, and I find myself running to keep up.

Back on the flat he slows down again, thank goodness, and we make it back into his stall without incident. The pilling goes OK, though I don't know how effective I was--the "paste" ended up a "slurry," and more dribbled down his face and my arm than made it into his mouth, I fear. A horse, even a small, drunken one, can get VERY tall when he sees a syringe headed his direction!

This morning we did better--I discovered that he'll eat it voluntarily if I mix the dissolved pills in his Senior Feed, which he likes moistened into a mash. So far, so good. Only nine more days to go.

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