The vet came out today to check out Henry’s heat intolerance problem. The verdict: still not totally sure. There’s nothing definitive going on that jumps up and explains the problem, but we did rule some things out.
First he checked all his vitals at rest and listened to his heart a lot, and forever. He was certainly very thorough.
Then I got to suffocate him. For real, I totally suffocated him. The vet got a palpation glove out of his truck and had me hold it over Henry’s nose until he was really struggling to breathe, then I took it off and he listened to his lungs. The point was to get him to take very long deep breaths. Henry says THIS IS NOT OKAY.
Then we took him out and lunged him for 10 minutes. This was a great dual purpose lunge since I wanted him to do a general soundness check anyway (verdict: very slightly hocky on the RH. Pentosan time. Which is fine because I had already planned to start him on Pentosan as general maintenance regardless). It was 95 degrees and pretty humid so 10 minutes was perfect to get him fairly labored. Then the vet checked everything again – heart, lungs, vitals, etc.
- No cardiac abnormalities. No sign of a murmur or anything, heart sounds great.
- Very slight rasping sound in the lungs only when he breathes very deep. The rasping is the same pre and post exercise, does not worsen as his respiratory rate increases. The vet thought it was more likely that this was scar tissue from some kind of illness when he was young, or a very light allergy. Still, this alone is certainly not enough to cause the problem.
- He’s well hydrated and vitals are good in general. His core temperature is the same before and after work, which is good. Even though he looks distressed he’s not getting super overheated.
- Definitely sweating adequately and normally.
So basically – nothing OBVIOUS is wrong. We will pull blood on Monday and are hoping that will tell us more. There’s a slight possibility he’s showing an atypical form of tying up, which would show up in the bloodwork. Also going to check for hypothyroidism. The vet doesn’t think there’s a good likelihood for any of that, but at least if the bloodwork comes back normal we will be able to cross those off the list.
Until then we’re going to try the easiest things first and give him extra electrolytes and some beer. If that helps him, great. If it doesn’t, oh well, it was worth a try, and neither of them will do any harm. If none of that works we can try some bronchodilators to see if that makes a difference, but he’d rather not go there until we’ve exhausted the easier options. He said I can continue to ride him, but just be very aware of his temperature/resp rate (taking his temp before and after would be good too) and try to keep him as cool as possible. So there will be only early morning or late evening rides for Henry’s summer, and lots of ice packs.
While it’s a little frustrating to not have any real answers, at least we’ve made headway and were able to figure out what it isn’t. And he’s not going to keel over and die any second… that too is good news.