20 year old Cushing's mare with leg swelling? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 20 Old 01-19-2018, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
I am sympathetic about the cost.

that when old horses become expensive or ill, many people try to find them another home so it becomes another person's decision and expense.
Cost to reward ratio is a tricky thing. Is it really worth it to buy expensive meds that only slow the process? What is the quality of life like? There are worse things than dying peacefully, living in chronic pain can be one of them.

I've thought a lot about this. This mare gave me my confidence back, taught my timid little sister to be a confident rider, showed nervous people how to be comfortable again. She's extraordinary and that after a life of being thrown between horse traders, ridden in ill fitting tack. I owe her more than I can pay.

Going peacefully to sleep and not waking up again is a far better end than suffering illness after illness before dying in pain.
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post #12 of 20 Old 01-23-2018, 06:11 PM
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There’s a difference between slowing the process but the horse is still somehow suffering and relieving symptoms and slowing the process so the horse can have more years and a good quality of life. Since she’s been on Prascend Willow has had no further laminitis attacks and is now sound barefoot. Her coat is still thicker than normal which is a pain as I have to clip her in the summer but otherwise she still enjoys a gallop around the field, bucks and leaps about with the best of them and bounces alongside me when going out or coming in.
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post #13 of 20 Old 01-23-2018, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueSpark View Post
I have an older Arabian mare who was diagnosed with Cushing's the summer she turned 18.

We tried the vet recommended medication, but not only was it expensive but she won't take it, in her mouth or food. Violently opposed. So we moved on to herbal(chaste berries) remedies. She's been doing ok for 1.5 years and then in the fall I started noticing much more hair growth, muscle loss and she just looks really old. Attitude seems good and she moves sound, been out lots on fun trail rides and Ponying other horses, she loves it.

Today I brought her in and she looks to have very irritated skin, like scratches, on her rear right heel. I didn't think scratches was a winter thing?

Also she has swelling in both rear and her right front legs. Left front normal. She's out in a large pasture with other horses. They run and play frequently as a herd. She was definitely a little stiff.

Any ideas? Vets at the farm on Monday anyways, might have him look at her if it doesn't improve.

I wouldn't think that is Cushings related (at least not directly).

Scratches can absolutely happen in the winter. I would definitely have the vet see her Monday with everything going on, and while he is examining her talk about the Cushings with him. Her having scratches on the swollen legs makes sense so do check that but either way I would talk to the vet. I would really try to get the pergolide into her, there are plenty of different ways to give it and even if she's opposed she will likely settle down once she's realized there's no other option. "She's been doing ok for 1.5 years and then in the fall I started noticing much more hair growth, muscle loss and she just looks really old" Clearly the chaste berries aren't cutting it anymore. My gelding gets a large pill that he won't eat on it's own so it gets broken up into his grain, he didn't want to eat it at first (and the medicine itself can put them off feed when they first start it) but now he's just fine with it. Prascend (brand name) comes in tiny pills that are very easily hidden, either toss them in the grain or hide them in a piece of treat. I've also seen liquid that comes in such a tiny amount you squirt it right in their mouth and they don't even notice (you can put it on the feed too). Lots of different options. You don't need to crush the Prascend, it's small enough she won't notice if you put it into something.

It's a shame to think it may be the end of the road for her at 20 when treatment would be so simple (if she would take it! Horses will be horses..). Obviously the challenge of getting it into her and of course the cost/logistics of expensive daily medication need to be taken into consideration so you can decide what is best for you and for her, but while I definitely think the promised re evaluation has been reached, I wouldn't be quick to make any end of life decisions, as long as she is happy most of the symptoms you're seeing aren't bothering her in the least. A long coat can be clipped, a poor topline is harmless, etc. I understand not wanting to wait until she is suffering but the Cushings itself does not cause pain, talk to the vet but I don't think it's unrealistic for her to have several more good years with minimal, if any, bumps in the road.

I know a pony (POA) with advanced Cushings (who previously foundered) who is not treated.... he's in his mid 30s and I've known him many years and he is doing very well and is very happy. He looks horrible (not much in the looks department even when young I'm sure lol), but has no issues nor does he need any special treatment aside from clipping him. He's still doing a full lesson program with teenagers. If you make the decision that continuing to not give the pergolide is in everyone's best interest you may see more and more things like the swollen legs and such, but you also may not. Horses without Cushings get scratches too. So re evaluate and maybe make a long term plan based off the decisions you make but for now aside from LOOKING like a Cushing's horse it doesn't sound like she is currently bothered in any way so hopefully can postpone any final decisions. The legs MIGHT be one of her first indirect symptoms...but may not... Shrug. So much up in the air but a few more days and a talk with your vet will hopefully give you a game plan. I wish you and her the best of luck, I heard about your other horse (even worse it's her son) and can't imagine now having to think about this. Regardless of what decision you come to I know you'll do what's best for your situation and your horse. I'm so sorry and will be hoping for the best for the both of you:(.

@gottatrot , consider getting your pergolide compounded vs Prascend...maybe tricky as your horse is picky with it but the cost difference is HUGE. My guy gets 2 mg pills (2 Prascend) and each pill is $1.36
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post #14 of 20 Old 01-23-2018, 09:08 PM
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Agree with @jaydee . For many horses, taking the medication slows the process to the point where they have very minor or no symptoms, no infections or laminitis, a good quality of life and die of old age before the Cushing's takes its toll.

My mare also on the pill has no other symptoms than a slightly longer haircoat. She still sheds the coat completely, just needs a little help with grooming tools in the spring. She is 26 and very energetic. I don't think you can do a cost/benefit analysis for a particular horse until the horse has been on the medication for awhile after becoming symptomatic.
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post #15 of 20 Old 02-02-2018, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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For any who commented, I thought I would update this thread.

After a long tear filled conversation with my vet i decided to put her down, almost exactly 2 weeks after her son. Aside from the virtual impossibility of medicating her orally(tried several options, including vets suggestions, to no avail) she had developed cellulitis and scratches, and her other Cushing's symptoms had worsened. I could have done very expensive injectable antibiotics to cure the cellulitis, but it would have only bought a little time.

I realize when to put a horse down is very controversial, and this was an impossibly hard decision to make. My vet was fantastic throughout, gave me options and was realistic.
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post #16 of 20 Old 02-02-2018, 01:48 PM
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I am so so very sorry but you did the right thing IMO:)

I have some sense of how very difficult that had to be --- maybe still being in a numb stage from sending the son on, such a short time ago, may have helped get through the initial aspect.

I put my 27 yo TWH down, then six months later my 29 yo Arab. They had been buds for 22 years and my Arab seemed to give up, after the Walker was laid to rest. I know how difficult your decision was.

Please keep reminding yourself that you did everything possible to help her. When there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I would rather see the horse sent on a little too soon than way too late.

Sending positive thoughts and hugs your way:)

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post #17 of 20 Old 02-02-2018, 01:56 PM
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I'm so sorry to hear this. I think you made the right choice for her, sounds like a very difficult situation.
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post #18 of 20 Old 02-02-2018, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. Her son was my forever horse, and i never thought she would go so soon. It was a very tough month.
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post #19 of 20 Old 02-02-2018, 09:04 PM
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I'm very sorry, it sounds like it was the right thing to do.
Far better than keeping her on and not medicating while her symptoms worsened.

I'm facing this with my own mare very soon, she has severe founder. It is a very difficult decision to make. My mare might have Cushing's too, we are waiting for the test results. For some reason some get more severe symptoms younger.

My other mare has had Cushing's for a few years and even though she has the long hair coat she is doing very well so far. So just because one person has a horse with Cushing's that is doing well, it doesn't mean another horse won't deteriorate quickly. I've heard of a number of horses that were discovered to have Cushing's when it was already too late to give them a quality of life.

Something also to realize is that the medication takes several months to work, so even if you got it into her it would have not been an instant help for her other conditions.
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post #20 of 20 Old 02-03-2018, 02:55 PM
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So sorry for you :(. I'm glad you have a good vet that was able to talk everything through with you and help you with this decision. It's always impossible but the right one is always where you are thinking about what is best for the animal given the situation and that was clearly first and foremost in your mind. Hopefully the vet helped make the decision a little easier and you are at peace with it despite the pain of losing her and her son. Sending good wishes your way.
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