This infection responds well to oral Metronidazole along with maintaining open drainage of the abcesses.
This page chronicles our Thoroughbred Bob's fight with a bacterial infection called WOODY (or WOODEN) TONGUE. This bacteria is common and often fatal in cattle. We are hoping that through education, we can help another horse get a proper diagnosis and prompt treatment. Please read on and share this with your equestrian friends!
Coming in from the field one night, Bob did not eat dinner and was drooling substantially. He also had a swelling under his jaw. Calling in the vet ASAP, she determined that Bob must have blocked salivary ducts caused by some kind of trauma in the field. She did notice odd lesions under his tongue, but attributed them to damage from his teeth as he wasn't able to hold his swollen tongue in. Not finding anything obvious , she confirmed her original diagnosis of the salivary problem. He was placed on antibiotics and Bute. He seemed to get better over the next few weeks, but about 3 days after finishing the medication, his original symptoms returned with a vengeance. Another emergency call found Bob very swollen, unable to eat and having difficulty swallowing even water. He was rapidly loosing body condition. This time, a needle was inserted in the swelling and pus oozed out which was very foul smelling. An infection pocket was confirmed. Samples were taken in order to determine the cause. He was placed back on general antibiotics as a precaution until the test came back. In order to facilitate draining, a surgical incision was made in his jaw to allow the pus to come out.
After almost a week, the test results came back for his culture indicating Bob was suffering from a condition known as "woody tongue" which primarily affects cattle. This condition is caused by a bacteria which normally inhabits soil as well as the oral cavities of many barnyard animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and horses. In cattle, a puncture from eating rough forage usually allows the bacteria entrance into the soft palate under the tongue where it quickly flourishes and causes swelling and hardening of the tongue, lesions under the tongue, swelling of the jaw and an inability to eat or drink. In many cases in cattle, the disease progress is rapid and results in death. Bob showed all the classic symptoms of the disease. His initial symptoms included swelling under the jaw, a swollen, stiffened tongue, ulcerations under the tongue, inability to eat and difficulty drinking.
Once the positive diagnosis was made, Bob was quickly placed on the correct course of antibiotics to combat the problem. After spending months on the wrong medications, the bacterial stronghold in Bob's jaw did not want to give up. We continued with daily medications, hot compresses and flushing of the wounds. Several additional abscess holes opened on their own and allowed for additional drainage. All the abscess holes were connected in the central cavity of the main infection pocket. We fed Bob out of a special container to allow for his altered ability to eat and watched him gain strength and appetite as the treatment progressed over the next several weeks.
After almost 4 months and a period of 300 pills per day, Bob's body finally defeated the infection. He ejected a mass of tissue which incorporated the lining of the infection pocket. Once the entire lining had been cleared of his jaw, the healing was tremendous and rapid! Within 2 weeks of expelling the tissue, all the holes closed completely and all the hair grew back on his jaw. He now has only a slightly thickened area were the infection was.
Thanks to the hard work of SMEVS and Dr. Sherry Kennedy and Bob's dedicated friends, family and nursing staff, he made it through an ordeal that would have subdued most horses. Documentation of cases of woody tongue in horses is scant. It is our hopes that Bob's story will be published in some equine publications in order to help others recognize and treat the illness. With prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment, this drawn out illness could have been rapidly resolved. We hope that others can learn from Bob, who seems to be a fountain of learning for unusual equine medical cases!
Bob's medical treatments totaled over $4,000. Thanks to the generous support of our community of sponsors, we were able to pay for Bob's treatments and he lived a long, happy life. With YOUR generous support, we can continue to provide medical treatment and care for other horses, ponies and minis that find themselves calling The Big Purple Barn home! We can also continue to share their stories to help educate other horse owner's, caretakers and animal lovers. Please consider making a contribution to help keep the legacy of this amazing horse alive!
The Big Purple Barn at Hidden Haven Farm Bob's Fund 6407 Hillmeade Road Bowie, MD 20720
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The Big Purple Barn, Inc located at Hidden Haven Farm Animal Sanctuary and Horse Discovery Center
6407 Hillmeade Road Bowie, MD 20720 In our Bowie location since 2001 Helping horses and humans alike since 1991
Tara J.W. Guevara- President/Program Director Contact Us! firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 240-687-3449 This site was last updated on October 11, 2017 This site is developed and maintained by Tara J.W. Guevara (all rights reserved)
Our mission is to provide quality, life-long care for horses/ponies and farm animals who are unwanted/neglected and/or have special needs and to develop and offer outreach programs utilizing our resident animals that provide enriching and life changing opportunities for people who might not otherwise have the chance to experience these animals in a supportive, educational environment for humans and animals alike.
We are an IRS approved 501(C)3 Organization FEIN #45-5022618