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Cushings/IR standard of care

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  • Cushings/IR standard of care

    I was wondering what the current standard of care is for horses with Cushings/IR on pergolide. Are annual veterinary exams recommended? Or are monitoring ACTH & insulin levels sufficient?

    I have a 20+ year old mare who has Cushings & is IR. She's been on pergolide for almost a year and is doing well. Healthy, happy & normal. Looks like a normal, healthy horse, and her chronic medical condition is under control.

  • #2
    I would maintain your routine care. But always keep a close eye on her condition. with some horses changes are very slow and imperceptible, others have a rapid downhill slide. Yours sounds as though she is doing well.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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    • #3
      Definitely, continue annual exams but I know many that during the first year of pergolide will check ACTH levels to make sure pergolide is doing its job and making sure the dosage is correct. After that some will just base doing repeat bloodwork based on how the horse looks but some will repeat bloodwork every 3-6 months for awhile.

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      • #4
        My mare has been on pergolide for about 6 years. I test ACTH & insulin annally, same time each year to make sure we're on track. Once we increased the pergolide dosage based on an upward ACTH trend over several years. I get it done when we start spring shots.

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        • #5
          I'll be checking ACTH in April during spring vacs; I'm planning to reduce his dosage until June or July, when the seasonal rise starts. Then I'll retest in August, then maybe again in Oct. just to be sure.

          My horse is 28 and I've been thinking of doing a complete CBC just to see where everything is at right now. He's never had one before and since the Cushings compromises his immune system, I thought it may help at some point. But, between the cost of the vaccines and the tests, it may be unaffordable for me.

          When first checking for Cushings, I did the glucose test too. He tested fine for that and shows no symptoms. If he was diagnosed with IR, I would definitely be testing for that yearly as well.

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          • #6
            I have an IR horse, and my vet advised me to soak her hay in water for an hour before feeding it and also to feed her a low starch grain. She wears a grazing muzzle when turned out except in the middle of winter when the grass is dead.

            To soak the hay, buy two new manure buckets and drill holes in the bottom of one bucket like a giant collander. place the hay in the bucket with the holes in the bottom into the second manure bucket and fill with water until the hay is submerged. Drain well and then feed the hay. Soaking the hay in water will remove most of the sugars from the hay. Be sure to dispose of the water after draining the hay so that your horse can't drink it.

            My IR horse lives on a diet of soaked hay and Purina Wellsolve Low Starch feed. She hasn't had another laminitic episode (thank God) since she was placed on this diet over 3 years ago.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Prime Time Rider View Post
              I have an IR horse, and my vet advised me to soak her hay in water for an hour before feeding it and also to feed her a low starch grain. She wears a grazing muzzle when turned out except in the middle of winter when the grass is dead.

              To soak the hay, buy two new manure buckets and drill holes in the bottom of one bucket like a giant collander. place the hay in the bucket with the holes in the bottom into the second manure bucket and fill with water until the hay is submerged. Drain well and then feed the hay. Soaking the hay in water will remove most of the sugars from the hay. Be sure to dispose of the water after draining the hay so that your horse can't drink it.

              My IR horse lives on a diet of soaked hay and Purina Wellsolve Low Starch feed. She hasn't had another laminitic episode (thank God) since she was placed on this diet over 3 years ago.
              You might want to consider testing your hay. If it is already low in NSC you don't have to soak and makes your life a little easier. I found a hay supplier that had a trailer load of all from the same cut and same field that I tested a sample from the bales and once I found out it was low enough in NSC I bought a bunch of it and got to stop soaking hay. Just a thought glad your mare is doing well!

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              • #8
                I have an IR horse, but not Cushings. We plan to do blood tests again soon, when I do spring shots. I think we checked him twice last year, and I'm hoping if things are still looking good, we may go to annual monitoring. I test my hay and usually have been able to keep him on a low NSC that did not need to be soaked. But I had a bunch of hay go bad this winter and had to bring in untested hay...so soaking until I get results back on it. It makes life so much easier to not have to soak!

                All his feed is carefully weighed so he doesn't get over fed. For "grain" all he gets is a small amount of low NSC hay pellets, soaked, with his supplements, which include a basic vitamin/mineral mix, flax seed, vit e, Quiessence, and Thyro-l as prescribed by the vet. Treats are some I make (most recent were the low NSC hay pellets and fenugreek) and celery. He also gets limited time on grass when season allows...right now, he's not as we've had cool nights, some sun in day, and things are growing. But when it warms up, well give him a few minutes early in the day to graze. Muzzle did not work so this is how we manage!

                I also monitor my guy's weight and crest by measuring every so often. I track it on the calendar and that way, his weight can't get away from me. I'm also trying to keep him exercised somewhat, even if all we manage is some walking (too wet to ride). And due to his history of laminitis, I'm always watching his feet...checking pulse, seeing how he moves, and keeping him on a reasonable farrier schedule.

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