If my horse (bought her few months ago) has early stages of founder, would it be more humane to have her euthanized than put through the process (probably surgery, etc.)?
We are not financially secure anymore due to me losing my job (last week) to be able to handle helping her through that kind of process.
I don't want her to suffer because I lost my job, that is not fair. I, also don't want her to be in pain rest of her life either and on a bunch of medications.
I'm not an expert on founder but if it's in the early stages as in just beginning then I think you need to soak the feet in epson salt and get a vet out. If you can't afford to care for the horse then putting it down is definitely an option, although I'd look into a rescue facility that may have the resources to care for and then rehome the horse.
I do not want to have to result to that, as I view every horse's life is precious. I wish my situation wasn't as it was, otherwise I'd put forth all the effort and money I could to help her be comfortable. I'm not knowledgable in founder department, but from what I understand once they founder even the early stages it's incredibly painful, they continue to be prone to foundering. In our pasture and the way our home is setup, she'd be setup to founder all the time :S. I do not want to euthanize her, as I've grown very very attached to her even in just the short time I've had her. I love her to death, but I refuse to let her live a life of pain and medication. Is it wrong for me to be thinking that ending her life might keep her from a life of pain and misery?
I presume you've had the vet out, since you have a diagnosis. She may very well be salvageable. Talk to your vet about options. In many cases, corrective shoeing will fix the immediate problem.
First thing to do is get her off grass and stop her from moving around. Stand her deep in cold mud or thick bedding. If she's seriously lame cut styrofoam pads for her feet.
Putting her down is a valid option, but make sure you know what you're dealing with before you resort to that. Once foundered, yes, a horse is more prone to do it again, but if you do things like limit turnout or use a grazing muzzle, you can minimize the risk.
I am not aware of any surgery to repair the damage done by founder.
If a horse's coffin has not rotated; then a foundered horse can be useful for years with careful management. Many horse have repeat episodes of founder, but if it's caught early, it's still managable.
Most of founder management just requires attention, rather than money. Limit grazing severely, get a grazing muzzle, monitor legs for digital pulses and feet for heat, check the fat pad at the crest of the neck. Proper shoeing to take some pressure off the toe and lamina.
Yes, acute founder is painful, but easily relieved by inexpensive painkillers (bute and banamine), soaking, etc.
Bubba gave you excellent advice for managing an acute founder.
If the problem is the way access to pasture is set up, get a grazing muzzle. My fatties live in them every spring and fall when the grass is rich.
If your horse is otherwise useful, and you can currently afford the basic expenses, you should be able to keep going with very little additonal investment. And if she's not currently acute, reselling or rehoming her is still an option.
If she's not otherwise useful, if the founder is severe and acute, or if she has coffin bone rotation on xray, then euthanasia may an option, but I wouldn't rush to that conclusion yet.
As an owner who has had 2 horses with varying degrees of laminits/founder, they most assuredly are salvagable if the rotation isn't too severe. My old QH had laminitis most of his life, we watched his diet very carefully and limited his grazing. Mainly, he'd have flares only once or twice a year at most, and we treated the discomfort from that with bute. We continued riding him until he let us know it was time to quit, at 30 y.o..
The 2nd horse was more severe, she was a broodmare and we sent her out to be bred one year and the breeding barn's staff made a feed error (she got no grain due to her laminitis and they fed her a warmblood's grain ration) and she had severe gas colic. Due to fearing for their jobs, they said nothing for over 12 hrs, and by the time I went to get her and take her to the vet, she was in such severe pain that she was already starting to founder. The colic was severe but remedied fairly quickly. The founder however, kept her in ICU for 10 days and we thought we'd lose her to that. Both front feet rotated, right more than left, 7 degrees for the right, I think 3 for the left. That was in 2005. She was 25 at the time. She came back from it, and with careful trimming and careful diet management, she did totally fine. She was retired from being a broodie at that point, and was just a pasture puff until last winter when she was injured in a pasture accident. Basically, she hurt her left leg to the extent that she'd have required extensive stall rest and would have stressed her right leg/foot even more so we pretty much decided it was put her down now or put her down later. At the time we put her down in Feb, her right front foot sole was so thin you could feel the coffin bone and we knew if she had another big flare, it would descend through the sole. So at 31 years, we let her go.
Neither horse was expensive to manage and except for brief flares of a couple of days, neither was in pain most of the time. Lucky passed at 32 y.o. And Fetyszka passed at 31, so both lived full lives and knew they were loved and cared for. Only you can know what is right for your horse, so if the rotation/pain is severe enough, putting her down is certainly and option. You don't say how old she is, so I can't tell you what I might consider/try in your case, nor do you say how severe the rotation is, if any.
When you say 'early stages of founder', to me that means more of a laminitis flare up than that she actually foundered. Founder itself is usually pretty dramatic. Fetyszka's rotation was not considered terribly severe yet she went down and stayed down for 8 days. When she got up she was bedded on peat moss and then sand for over a month until she showed signs of being more comfortable in her stance.
Hope some of this helps you in your decision process.