IDEN­TI­FY­ING THE

EQUUS - - Conversati­ons -

PROB­LEM

Cel­luli­tis is most com­mon in a hind limb, but it can also oc­cur in a front leg or on other parts of the body. “The clas­sic form of cel­luli­tis is uni­lat­eral, af­fect­ing just one limb, but it can af­fect mul­ti­ple limbs,” says Fogle. Here are the com­mon signs:

• Swelling that is dra­matic and ap­pears sud­denly. “The leg is usu­ally dif­fusely en­larged, some­times all the way from the foot up to the sti­fle or be­yond, and the typ­i­cal case is gen­er­ally swollen from at least the foot to the hock,” says Mudge. The leg may be two or three times larger than nor­mal, and the swelling will be firm to the touch.

• Se­vere pain. “Th­ese horses are gen­er­ally very lame, but of­ten the pain oc­curs when ad­vanc­ing the limb rather than from stand­ing on that leg; it’s dif­fi­cult or painful to move the limb,” Fogle says. “Gen­er­ally, the horse will bear rea­son­able weight on the af­fected limb when not be­ing asked to move, com­pared to a non-weight-bear­ing lameness that is com­monly seen with a frac­ture or a joint in­fec­tion.”

• Heat. “The leg is usu­ally very warm and painful to the horse if touched,” says Mudge.

• Fever. The horse’s tem­per­a­ture is likely to be el­e­vated, and his heart rate may be in­creased. His over­all at­ti­tude may be dull, and his ap­petite low.

• Wet­ness on the sur­face of the skin may be no­tice­able, es­pe­cially if the swelling is dra­matic. “De­pend­ing on how se­verely swollen it is, the leg may be ooz­ing serum, weep­ing through the skin,” says Mudge. Th­ese breaks in the skin may have been caused by the ini­tial trauma, or the skin may be so over­stretched that the yel­low­ish serum seeps out.

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