Cushing's disease can be scary. This endocrine disease is caused by a tumor which affects the pituitary gland. It is often seen in ponies and elderly horses, and results in high levels of cortisol and various symptoms such as excessive thirst, excessive urination, hyperglycemia, excessive eating, and a shaggy coat.
While these symptoms may be daunting, you may be asking why this disease is thought to be so scary. Cushing's compromises the immune system in your horse, threatening your horse's health and even life. As of now, there is no cure for this disease.
However, not all hope is lost. With proper care and a close eye on the horse's nutritional needs, many horses suffering from Cushing's disease can live longer, happier lives.
Caring for a Horse With Cushing's
Horses with Cushing's disease need routine care. Any changes to their horse feed, diet, or medication can negatively impact their already compromised health. While many areas of care may seem mundane and small, they are all essential to providing your horse with a better quality of life.
Consider the following horse health tips when dealing with Cushing's:
Deworming - Horses with Cushing's are more likely to contract parasites due to their compromised immune systems. Make sure to contact your vet and schedule regular appointments for deworming, as well as other basic care, such as ongoing horse health exams and dental care.
Farrier Care - Hoof abscesses, laminitis, and other hoof and leg conditions are often seen in Cushing's horses. Horses may display a tender footed stance or act as if the leg is bothering them. If you notice any signs of trouble, contact your farrier for an appointment. Be sure to also schedule regular appointments with your farrier, even if you do not notice any signs of trouble.
Grooming - Many horses with this disease have trouble with temperature regulation and their coat. You can assist your horse with this problem, however, by taking the time to groom him on a regular basis. Always ensure his coat is clean and dry, especially before you blanketing him or using a saddle. This will help prevent skin conditions from developing. You may also want to consider body clipping when the weather becomes hot or humid.
Feed - Feeding a Cushing's horse correctly is essential to a longer and happier life. Many need help regulating their insulin and blood glucose levels. This means you must ensure the sugar and starch in their diet is controlled. This may mean limiting the amount of pasture your horse feeds on and using supplements to control your horse's insulin level.
Consider feed that contains mehionine, biotin, lysine, complete trace minerals, and vitamin E in. These will support the growth of the hoof, assist in maintaining muscle mass, and support the immune system.
With these tips, you should be more equipped to keep your horse's health in check and provide him with a happier and brighter future. While there may not be a cure for Cushing's disease, proper care can help to extend your horse's life.