As a horse owner my reaction was, not my horse! She is too young to have cushings! As a veterinarian, I noticed she had a heavier than normal coat. Even after she shed her winter coat, she had long and dull hair remaining. I performed a fecal egg count – which was low and ruled out parasitic issues. However, I dewormed her with Quest Plus just in case there were encysted larvae not showing up in the fecal exam and to kill any potential tapeworms. Finally, I ran a blood panel after an overnight fast to test for ACTH, insulin, & thyroid abnormalities. The good news was that she had normal insulin levels, so she was not considered insulin resistant. Her thyroid levels were also normal. However, her ACTH levels were extremely high, making the diagnosis of Cushings definite. In disbelief, I called an internal medicine specialist with Boeringer-Ingelheim and he agreed that she most likely was in the early stages of the disease. The good news is that we are catching it early and hopefully can slow down the maturation of the tumor in the pituitary gland.
So far, she has accepted the medication readily, but this could be because apples have been a rare treat up until now. I started her on a half dose to avoid the ”Pergolide Veil”, which sometimes causes horses to go off of their feed in the first weeks of therapy. She now looks forward to her apple treat with her Prascend tablet hidden safely inside. I know that the day may come when I may need to switch her “treats”, but I will always have to watch how many sweets I give her. Even though she is not insulin resistant, I have had to work hard to maintain her weight over the past few years by using a grazing muzzle at night and a dry lot or stall during the day. She gets fed a vitamin-mineral supplement pellet to be sure her basic nutritional needs are met. I also give her flax seed (an omega 3 fatty acid), which helps her coat and regulates her insulin levels.
Unfortunately, last summer she was nursing a soft tissue injury, so she was rested and I really haven’t been able to exercise her enough since then. I share the same excuses that some of you do; working too much and wimping out when it is too hot or raining. I hate to admit it, but her BCS (body condition score) is probably a 7/9, so I need to loose the excuses for both of our sakes!
I have added “body clipping” onto my list of activities with Daisy. She looks and
feels so much better now. She also has a fan during the day as some cushinoid
horses become more stressed in the heat.
I have worked through back issues, hock issues, and neurologic disease with her,
so evidently she will continue to be a teacher to me. As a veterinarian, it does help
to experience some of the same trials that many of my clients and patients face.
At least it gives me some insight and hopefully will help me to address your issues
with even more compassion and expertise.