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Well, poop. Calvin is showing early signs of Cushings. What are my next steps?

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  • Well, poop. Calvin is showing early signs of Cushings. What are my next steps?

    My dear, 23-year-old TB, Calvin, is not shedding out his coat this spring. When my vet was out to do spring shots/teeth/sheath cleaning, she commented on it and asked if he was peeing more and mentioned "he could be developing Cushings"...but nothing more was said.

    He's in good weight for a fussy, hard-keeping TB of his age, eating pasture (now), eastern Oregon orchard grass, and in the evenings he eats: BP soaked, rolled oats, senior pelleted, rice bran pellets, PNW specific vitamin/mineral mix. I'm not seeing increased drinking or urination, his coat is just...not...short and typically TB...though it is shiny and he shed loads earlier this spring.

    Am I worrying needlessly? Should I have him tested? Ack! He's a retired pasture ornament who is feisty and still as hot and animated as ever.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

  • #2
    I think it's worth having him tested and put on medication if appropriate, to minimize his chances of developing complications from unchecked Cushings. I would ask your vet if this is a good time of the year to do so, as their ACTH levels fluctuate through the seasons and it can be harder to get an accurate picture at certain times of the year.
    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Yeah...I did some googling and read about the fluctuation in the Fall. I'll give her a call and discuss it. He also has lost 2 teeth in the last 3 years, and that was mentioned as a symptom. This makes me sad--he's such a vital horse, sensitive and easy to be around, very obedient and loves his pasture buddy. Darn it! Getting old sucks!
      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

      Comment


      • #4
        Many older horses get cushings. It's pretty common. Hair coat not shedding is one of the signs. Some have different signs but the only way to tell is blood work.

        I had a cushings horse that wouldn't shed out and started getting abscesses. I had him tested and put him on Pergolide. Pergolide is great. I also started feeding more of the alfalfa leaves and wet alfalfa/oat pellets. He was in his 30s and lived up to 40 years.

        You need to get them tested to see how much Pergolide they need.
        Live in the sunshine.
        Swim in the sea.
        Drink the wild air.

        Comment


        • #5
          Go to www.ecirhorse.com and join the Yahoo Groups group from which it grew. Pergolide is once again available as an Rx medication, Prascend, instead of only being available through compounding pharmacies.
          Jeanie
          RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've had two Cushings horses here, one just was diagnosed. The pergolide is much easier to give than at least what I was giving before. My current boarder just gets 1/2 a SMALL tablet of the prascend that I put in his nosebag with his handful of feed.
            https://www.facebook.com/SugarMapleFarm
            Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/
            www.PeonyVodka.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Talk with your vet to see if testing is necessary. If not, I would save the testing money and just start him on Prescend pergolide.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Great advice-thank you so much. Can I inquire about the monthly cost of Pergolide/Prascend on average?
                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Calvincrowe View Post
                  Great advice-thank you so much. Can I inquire about the monthly cost of Pergolide/Prascend on average?
                  When I had a horse on the compounded stuff it ran about $35 a month for 1 mg/day (standard dose for small-to-average sized horse). Prascend is about double that.
                  As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My vet charges me $143 for a 60-day supply of Prascend. Our small pony is on the 1 mg. dose/day, which is the one small pill. I melt it and syringe it into his mouth so as not to waste a drop or granule!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The seasonal rise starts in July; this is when a horse's ACTH will come back very high if a horse has Cushings. It's better to get tested and start treating early.

                      My 20something horse had been growing a thicker (but not longer) coat for a few years and was slow to shed. I thought that was normal old age stuff. When he started drinking and urinating more, I had him tested---it came back at 712 (normal is below 40). It's been hard to get the levels down to normal and I wish I had him tested before, although my vet never suggested it and I didn't suspect it at the time.

                      Pergolide (or Prascend, if you can afford it), is the way to go. Join the EC/IR group, don't be overwhelmed, as there's a lot of information there. A 1mg dose of Pergolide is less than $30/mo. and most vets start at that dose. You'll have to retest to be sure the dose is correct.

                      Cushings is common and most horses do very well when it's controlled.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Please get him tested. Our barn is reeling from the loss of a 20 yr old gelding from unchecked Cushings. Test was mentioned last Fall but it was the wrong time of the year, owner was away at school.;

                        Then in the Spring, he was not shedding (that had happened before too). He showed signs of illness on Friday a week ago (low temperature, ataxia, loss of vision in one eye, lots of drinking and peeing and by Thursday, massive diarrhea and bloating) and his condition was deteriorating rapidly (signs of colitis as well). His loving owner chose to not let him suffer. We miss him even though he was an ornery old guy at times, but his nicker would melt anyone's heart.

                        Please get him tested, (I joined Coth when you got Calvin back... )
                        Best of luck!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Pshaw. T'aint nothing. :-)

                          Catch it early, throw the boy on Prascend (my horse gets 1/2 a tablet a day in her food; doesn't notice it), and you have lots of company here from people who are in complete denial that their horses might be, you know, getting less young. (Shhhhhh.)

                          The EC/IR group on yahoo is terrifying (I thought), and will have you having nightmares over NSC contents and wanting to shade your pastures and put on grazing muzzles.... I am drawing the line at the grazing muzzle; it would make my horse too miserable. I made the decision to let her enjoy her grass, with a few caveats that I don't think she'll notice, and I will step up her exercise and get a few extra pounds off her. Not easy decisions for any given horse and owner, but, it's what I decided to do. I'm trying to remember if the EC/IR folks don't like rice bran.... well, go on the list. You'll be able to find out from the various articles, or just ask on the message board.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Calvin is very fit--he's a TB who just likes to keep on moving, no fat deposits, no cresty neck. Our pasture is so seasonal, I can't imagine keeping him off it! I'll check out the EC/IR board...though it sounds scary.

                            Call in to vet tomorrow to see about testing (or what she recommends we do). Good to know Prascend isn't the only choice, too.
                            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Test the horse.
                              I have a 27 year old Morgan who is the poster child for Cushings and his TRH stimulation test was a solid negative. Both he and my vet were like "huh. well that's good to know!". We just tested my other "Cushings poster child" (20 year old Morgan) yesterday; will get the results in a few days.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Unless you really can't afford the testing and/or the expense of the medication to treat the condition, I'd recommend doing it, and sooner rather than later. Sure, he doesn't sound like the poster child for cushing's disease at this point, based on your description, but there is enough there to suggest it as a possibility. And if he does have it, it is so much better to diagnose it and start treatment right now, before the disease progresses to the point where he shows more obvious symptoms and suffers more systemic damage from it. Horses with obvious or advanced disease often show a remarkable response to treatment and will significantly improve, but there is no real reversing all the damage, once it is done. So the goal should be to manage it as proactively as possible, before their systems are compromised and suffer the damage that uncontrolled cushing's disease will do to them.

                                Since his signs are subtle, I'd not just start this horse on medication without testing. I think this approach is reasonable for horses that show the classic and very obvious and severe symptoms and the owner really can't afford the testing. Even if the horse obviously shows the symptoms, it is good to go ahead with testing so you can get baseline numbers that can be used to measure the horse's progress (or non-progress) and the response to treatment, to compare with later tests, and guide medication dosage, etc. Again, when the budget just doesn't allow for testing and the disease is very obvious, it is reasonable to start treatment without testing and to judge their response based on clinical signs alone. But the OP's horse isn't an obvious or severe case, so I wouldn't want to start medicating him before the disease is confirmed. These medications can really turn things around for cushing's horses, but they are not at all benign or without such significant effects that I would want to risk giving it to a horse that may not have the disease at all.

                                None of us want to throw money around needlessly, but my advice is to go for it and get the horse tested now, as I think there is enough there to warrant it and the potential benefits to early diagnosis/treatment are so great. However, it sounds like the horse is not in such a state that not testing/treating would necessarily be the wrong decision, especially if the owner cannot afford it or it would put the owner in a bad position, financially, to spend the money on it at this point. Sometimes our dollars are better spent elsewhere or saved for something else on another day. I wouldn't bankrupt myself to test the horse right this minute or deplete my emergency vet fund/cushion to do it.

                                Good luck to you and your horse, OP!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  We did all of the testing and the results were not clear. We then decided to start Prascend despite the unclear testing results. The Prascend seems to have made a big difference. Our old guy looks great now and seems much happier. He is still old and lame, but so far is active and content.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I would definitely test him and re-test according to your Vet to make sure his levels are maintained.
                                    Also, not sure I would feed rolled oats..they are very high in NSC which is not good...for whatever it's worth...I like the Senior, free choice hay and soaked beet pulp.
                                    I had 3 senior horses who developed Cushings and were managed well
                                    Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakend. ~Anatole France~
                                    www.EquineKneadsLLC.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      You might want to check out Dr. Kellon's Yahoo support group. She has an herbal protocol that has done some amazing things for many horses. Tons of testimonials I've seen over the years. It's also very inexpensive.

                                      Or Google Dr. Eleanor Kellon.

                                      I hope you're able to find the right protocol that works for you and Calvin.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by SharonA View Post
                                        Pshaw. T'aint nothing. :-)

                                        Catch it early, throw the boy on Prascend (my horse gets 1/2 a tablet a day in her food; doesn't notice it), and you have lots of company here from people who are in complete denial that their horses might be, you know, getting less young. (Shhhhhh.)

                                        The EC/IR group on yahoo is terrifying (I thought), and will have you having nightmares over NSC contents and wanting to shade your pastures and put on grazing muzzles.... I am drawing the line at the grazing muzzle; it would make my horse too miserable. I made the decision to let her enjoy her grass, with a few caveats that I don't think she'll notice, and I will step up her exercise and get a few extra pounds off her. Not easy decisions for any given horse and owner, but, it's what I decided to do. I'm trying to remember if the EC/IR folks don't like rice bran.... well, go on the list. You'll be able to find out from the various articles, or just ask on the message board.
                                        Agreed! For an active, healthy horse, I wouldn't be discouraged. But do get the testing done - I paid $80 for mine. And I know that Prascend is more expensive but the pill is tiny and apparently palatable because my guy *always* eats it, and he leaves food behind just about every day (sometimes a lot). (But he can find 1/4 Previcox in his feed no matter what I do).

                                        I did find the Yahoo group to be overwhelming and info overload...and I like to research.

                                        Comment

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