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Cushings + IR + heat intolerant vent

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  • Cushings + IR + heat intolerant vent

    my 16 yo Arab gelding was diagnosed this spring with Cushings and IR. He foundered with a very mild rotation. He's been on pergolide, thyroid-l, HEIRO, and chaste tree berry. Eats alfalfa hay in a slow feeder and a ration balancer. His bloodwork was decent In August: ACTH was 48.9 last time; insulin was 32.08. (Insulin had been 86 in July; ACTH had been 21). When his bloodwork was done in August, he looked good. Slick coat. Bucking and being a snot in the morning. His xrays were great. Vet thought the slightly elevated ACTH might have been seasonal or just him. He was Cleared to ride. Except we were still having 100+ degree days and he had been having some heat intolerance in June, so I waited.

    Now his coat is awful again, extremely thick and longer than my other horses'. AND he's sweaty when no one else is, resp. rate at 50 resting in his stall under a fan.

    i use a weight tape on him every week to make sure he isn't gaining or losing too much. He's 16h and about 960 per the tape.

    To make matters worse, he historically has been very sensitive to insects bites and he is WAY worse about that now. I've been keeping him in at night under fans (when the mosquitos are worse) and I use the strongest fly spray available. Between the mosquitos and the humidity and his sweatiness, he has crusty crud in his mane, underline, and in and around his ears. If I put a fly mask with ears on him, he rubs the tips of his ears bloody (tried several different brands). And everything heals very slowly. I have not body-clipped him because I didn't want to offer the bugs an easier target. He is dewormed regularly w/ ivermectin (or quest or a combo).

    In desperation, I have ordered a fly sheet (I've never used one on any horse here because of the heat) and as soon as it gets here I will try clipping what the sheet covers and see if that helps with the sweating and panting. The vet is due out in about two weeks to geld my yearling and I will re-do the bloodwork again. But managing this disease (or collection of diseases) is much harder than I thought it would be. We think he was diagnosed a few years late--we had been having trouble keeping weight on him for several years and for at least 3 years running he has been very late to shed. He hasn't foundered again, but he is one hot, itchy, tired and uncomfortable horse.

    I feel like I'm losing this battle.

  • #2
    I would clip him and stall him under some high powered fans. My old mare has cushings and is allergic to mosquitoes and biting midges. I clip her year round and stall accordingly. I give her free choice access to her stall.

    I would try a fly sheet. You can also use a lycra sheet to cover the neck and shoulders. My friend uses one on her horse who has skin issues.

    Have you tried an antihistamine? Zyrtec can be used on horses. I would try it.


    • #3
      Frequent baths with a medicated shampoo may help the skin issues. Also you can try citronella shampoo. The one i used was really helpful against gnats.


      • #4
        1. I have been shampooing both my horses (one is IR) with MalAcetic about twice monthly.

        I have used MalAcetic on dogs and horses for around 15 years. It is all natural and has a very calming affect on the animal. A little bit goes a long way, a gallon should last you a couple of years, for one horse

        I am also cold hosing them down every night and using a soft rubber brush to knock the sweat off, the putting them in their stalls with the barrel fans aimed at them, on timers to shut off at 2:00 AM.

        Cold hosing them every night helps cool them down, plus get a decent night of sleep in this miserable hear/humidity.

        2. I also use Mal-A-Ket wash in their ears, then put a thin layer of Equate brand Triple Antibiotic w/pain reliever in the ears. The Mal-A-Ket is some good stuff the vet had me use on a cat that had ear cancer surgery.

        None of this stuff is cheap but at least a little of each goes a long way. I have learned that in some instances stuff only works if it costs a lot or smells to High Heaven or both

        3. I agree to clip your horse. My IR horse is likely borderline Cushings, looking at his coat but his tests still come back in normal range. I am still tempted to give him a partial clip but so far, cold hosing every night, then in the stall with the barrel fan aimed on him is working.

        Not sure where you are but if we can all hang in there during this heat wave until the end of next week, we may see some relief. My forecasted daytime temps next weekend are supposed to "down" in the 80's.


        • #5
          I feel your pain. I went through this a few years ago with my now 24 year old. But he was even sweating in January in northern Michigan when the temps were in the teens. He has tested IR, borderline low thyroid, but supposedly not Cushings. His hair does get a thick undercoat and for the past few years gets curly when damp/wet. In spite of the blood work that says no Cushings both I and my vet think he is at least somewhat borderline and treat accordingly. He is not on prascend but is on all the other supplements you list in your OP. I do think they have all helped as he is much better now. No more inappropriate sweating, good weight, and still energetic and happy to work. Fortunately has not shown any signs of founder, knock wood.

          My other, younger Fjord has sweat itch/gnat sensitivity. I have posted about it on several threads (search sweet itch as I've given lengthy details of what I have done and found helpful).

          Fly sheet with belly band makes a BIG difference. Have you tried the Roma Stretch Bug eye fly mask? It is a soft, form fitting lycra with plenty of room for the ears. The eye and ear covering is a soft nylon mess, not like so many of those stiff masks. At first I thought it would be too light weight, but none of my guys have ever tried to rub it, so they must find it comfy.

          Fans are also good. Cullicoides are weak fliers and not as problematic when there is a good breeze.

          Benadryl helps break the itch cycle. Some summers I have had him on it almost daily for much of the summer.

          When he is really fighting the itch, I find that a cool rinse of straight witch hazel or aloe vera gel seems to help quite a bit. I also very much like Leave it Be salve from Uckele, as well as their citronella fly spray. I highly recommend both.

          Also, does your bug sensitive horse like to get good and dirty? Mine sleeps in his pee spot darned near every night. Go to the Heiro website and read their section on sweet itch. That pee is a HUGE fly & gnat magnet. Although I don't use their sweet itch products (I find them quite pricey), their protocol for keeping the horse clean and other aspects of itch management make a ton of sense and have helped my itchy one improve immensely.

          Good luck with all your horses issues. It sure is frustrating at times and the target seems to be every moving.
          Uckele Health & Nutrition is a trusted leader in the production of nutritional supplements, formulas and programs for horses, people and dogs.


          • Original Poster

            I am in Florida. Highs still around 90.

            I have used Zyrtec for him before he got sick, with little success. But I will start it again. It can't make him worse, anyway. Anyone remember the dose?

            i hose him down nightly. Plan to clip him down as soon as the fly sheet gets here. I ordered the one w/ maximum airflow from Schneider's. I hope this works and doesn't just make him rub himself raw.

            I hadn't thought of the triple antibiotic with pain relief. I will try it on him. Used it myself recently when I sliced my thumb (yes it's true, nothing sticks out like a sore thumb) and it really made a difference.

            calm and cool helps the bites. I can tell, because he flinches when I touch some of them, but then relaxes when he feels the oil. but then he goes and stands in the sun, and it's oil. So I keep that for his underline now ...

            he is such a special boy. Definitely the best bred and best trained horse I've ever owned. It sucks that he looks so awful now and can't be the athlete he was. But I really wish I could just make him more comfortable. Winter cannot come soon enough.


            • Original Poster

              Fjordmom, saw your post after I had written the last. What's the dose for Benadryl? I haven't tried it on him before. And I haven't tried a Roma mask, either. I'll look for it. The fly sheet I ordered has a belly band. And I had exchanged a few emails with Dr. reilley, so I knew about the problem w/ urine as an attractant for the cursed bugs. Another reason for the nightly hose-down.


              • #8
                Offering solidarity- it can be hard to figure out the magic combination. Be prepared that once you think you get this right, next year it will change. I have a Cushings horse who's a non-sweater and summer is oh so fun...

                You mentioned his breathing. Is his respiratory rate consistently elevated at 50? If so, talk to your vet about adding something (supplement or medical) for breathing support. Hot horses who aren't effectively cooling themselves through sweat rely on respiration to lower their body temperatures. When you talk about this with your vet, have your horse's heart rate handy as well. If the resting respiration rate is consistently above the resting heart rate, it's a sign of elevated internal body temperature (the horse is attempting to cool himself primarily through respiration and it's not working.) Mine ended up living on ventipulmin this summer for this reason and it made a significant difference in his wellbeing.

                Hair coat: Clip him. The fly sheet is a good idea, but I honestly wouldn't wait. Bug bites won't kill him, but heat stress can.

                I've become a huge fan of neem oil for warding off bugs; I use Swat as a carrier to keep the oil where I want it and saw a near total reduction in bug bites along my horse's underline this year, and improved the healing time.

                Benadryl dosing: call your vet for this as different sources recommend different doses. For a ballpark, my vet suggests 25mg per 100lbs BID for hives, which would be 12 pills twice daily for a 1200lb horse. (Other references suggest up to 4mg/kg depending on what you're trying to treat, hence: call your vet.) You might also ask if your vet has other recommendations from the pharmacy. Hydroxyzine is a popular one around here.

                Good luck. Summer really sucks for these horses. My vet offered a prescription to "move to Maine."
                "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Red2003 View Post
                  my 16 yo Arab gelding was diagnosed this spring with Cushings and IR. He foundered with a very mild rotation. He's been on pergolide, thyroid-l, HEIRO, and chaste tree berry. Eats alfalfa hay in a slow feeder and a ration balancer. His bloodwork was decent In August: ACTH was 48.9 last time; insulin was 32.08. (Insulin had been 86 in July; ACTH had been 21). When his bloodwork was done in August, he looked good. Slick coat. Bucking and being a snot in the morning. His xrays were great. Vet thought the slightly elevated ACTH might have been seasonal or just him. He was Cleared to ride. Except we were still having 100+ degree days and he had been having some heat intolerance in June, so I waited.

                  Now his coat is awful again, extremely thick and longer than my other horses'. AND he's sweaty when no one else is, resp. rate at 50 resting in his stall under a fan.
                  I just want to clarify his ACTH numbers above. You said his ACTH was 48.9 in August and had been 21. If you didn't accidentally reverse your numbers his ACTH is going up again and he needs a higher dose. I would definitely clip him, at least do a strip on his chest and belly until the fly sheet comes.
                  Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm:
                  Paradigm Farms on Facebook


                  • #10
                    As Renn mentioned on the benadryl dose, I'd consult your vet. The dose mine recommended is considerably less that the one in that post. My horse does fine with one dose daily, but my vet did say it is OK to give twice a day if needed. you probably already know, but it is dirt cheap. I buy my at Sam's Club, 500 pill bottle lasts more than a month. My guy eats the pills right up so I just throw them in with his PM feeding. If he misses one now and then, they're easy to spot - little pink pills.

                    Good you were in touch with Dr. Reilley. He is quite generous in sharing his knowledge and useful info.


                    • Original Poster

                      Update: so far, so good. I body-clipped where the fly sheet covers him and left his head, neck, and legs unclipped (though I did trim under his jaw a bit, because the Cushings fat deposits and all that extra hair looked so NOT like my formerly beautiful boy). He's in a stall with a private 20'x30' paddock at night with the fly sheet on, able to go in under the fans or out as he wants. Days he is out with my mare in a large, mostly shaded paddock with a slow hay feeder under a run in shed. He seems to be a lot cooler and has not developed any welts or rashes on the clipped area, or--thank God--any raw spots from the sheet or obsessive scratching. Right after I clipped him, he was still breathing faster than normal (maybe still too high a body temp?), but now he seems to breathe more normally. I do not know yeti if he can tolerate any exercise, but I plan to put him in the round pen for a few minutes this weekend to see how he does.