Our blind foal Brynn, now 11 months old, has been experiencing dramatic temperature spikes in the past few weeks. Ever since she came back from urinary tract surgery at Washington State University's veterinary teaching hospital in early March, I had taken her temperature every morning as an early warning indicator of potential infection.
Because she still had a minor leak, she dribbled occasionally onto her legs and a little down her backside, yet this was an enormous improvement on her condition prior to the surgery. But it meant we also bathed her rear end and legs every day, so I always took her temperature at the same time. We do this routine while she's eating her grain.
Her temperature was always normal until a few weeks ago. Then one morning she suddenly had a fever of 105.6. Normal temperature in a horse averages about 100 degrees, so 105 is a bad sign. Fearing the worst -- the surgeons at WSU had told us that one risk with Brynn's surgery was the possibility of urine backing up into her kidneys -- we rushed her into our equine vet, Dr. Bill Brown, for blood work. The blood tests showed her kidney values were still fine.
Yet even with such a high fever, Brynn didn't act sick, she had a great appetite, and she nickered up a storm. After Brynn spent several hours at the clinic that day, Bill said, "You know, I've never seen a horse with a fever that high act so normal." It turned out that this episode seemed to be associated with a flu, because she developed a snotty nose. A course of antibiotics brought her fever down over the course of three days, and it remained steady.
Then last Tuesday, she spiked again overnight to 105.8 degrees ... with no snotty nose, no respiratory issues, no signs of any other illness. And she still didn't act sick. Brynn was perky, happy, nickering, eating, drinking, and being her usual sweet self. More antibiotics, coupled with an anti-inflammatory, and her temperature returned to normal ... in ONE day. That's weird.
This morning, dang, another spike ... she was at 104 degrees ... while still ON antibiotics. When I went into her stall I noticed she felt warm to the touch, and the thermometer confirmed it. I called Bill, who by this point was as puzzled as we were by the rapid cycling of her temperature and the fact that it doesn't seem to affect her at all and make her "sick" -- even though she clearly is. Bill spoke with Brynn's equine surgeon at WSU this afternoon, and they both concluded that she must still have an infection somewhere ... perhaps in her urinary system. We're going to get blood work in the next day or two and see what her white blood cell count looks like.
Alayne took this photo of me taking Brynn's temperature this evening. (Once she spikes a fever, we take her temperature three times a day to stay on top of it.) Right after I pulled the thermometer out and started walking around Brynn's backside, she peed ... and the stream of urine splashed all over my pants. That's actually how the day started, too: Nevada the blind puppy peed all over me when I took her out of her crate this morning. (Occupational hazard.) So by this evening I was already on my second set of clothes!
(Click on photo for larger image.)