Alright, for starters please be kind in this post as this is a very hard question for me to even ask. I have a 17 year old Quarab mare who was diagnosed with heaves last summer. I have done the best I can; round bales were removed, she has been fed soaked square bales, 24/7 turn out, good grain (with oil to reduce any dust), pine shaving bedding when she needs to come in, light exercise once a week, a shot of Dex when she needs it, etc.
Her breathing is not nearly as bad as it was but it's still not healthy of course. She has an occasional flare up, mostly when the pollen count is high or the farmers harvest. However, she looks terrible. She is fed Kalm Ultra (12% fat), has free choice soaked hay all day long and also has soybean oil daily. She has been turned out on pasture when it is available also and has access to a high performance mineral block. I have tried adding rice bran for extended periods of time, also, and no difference. Ever since she started showing symptoms my easy keeper has been skeletal.
We have tried breathing treatments, supplements, you name it. The only thing that helps her is Dex but my vet advised me to only give it when necessary because of the harsh side effects; she only needs one ever few months.
All this being said, she struggled last winter. I can tell that even though her breathing is getting better she is terribly weak. Her winter coat barely grew in even though we had a horribly harsh winter. The footing in my pasture isn't bad but if the ground froze she had a really hard time navigating; she had to be stalled most.of the winter for these reasons, and no matter how clean or dust free I keep my barn she still coughs if she's in, even on the end stall by the door. I hoped I'd be able to help her rehab this summer, maybe put some weight on her and get her in better health. But nothing is helping still:(
My husband wants me to put her down when the weather starts getting cold again. I told him I can blanket her, try to make the pasture footing better, maybe talk to the vet about trying a new med, but he says no. We have 2 kids under 5 years old and two other horses who are healthy. He says I've done everything I can for her but to continue dumping money into her isn't fair to our family, especially since there is no cure for heaves and she will eventually die from it.
I know I could try to re-home her but I'm terrified to even try. He said to list her online for $100 to good home only, but anyone could buy her for that and ship her off for meat:( Even the rescues have told me if they can't rehomed her they will put her down.
Has anyone put a horse down for heaves? I feel so dang guilty; I know I could do more but guys, I have 2 kids. She's up to date on all her dental, shots, farrier work, even chiropractic work and has great care, I just can't afford expensive meds and breathing treatments. I'm scared if I try to re-home her she'll end up on a meat truck or she'll die at a rescue surrounded by strangers. My husband says the kindest thing now is to let her enjoy the rest of summer with her daughter and put her down when the weather gets cold so she doesn't have to struggle again. Is he right? I don't want to let her go but I don't want to make my girl suffer:(
Please be kind in your feedback, I've been working closely with my vet and doing the best I can afford to do. Pic is from before she got sick. IMG_1155_1560777163142.jpg