Is It Time To Let Go? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Is It Time To Let Go?

PLEASE BE POLITE!! THIS IS A HORRIBLE DECISION, I'M DOING MY BEST AND MY VET IS VERY INVOLVED!

Ok! I have a mare who was diagnosed with COPD years ago. We've taken all the right steps; switched her feeding routine, 24/7 turnout, obsessive weed control, different bedding, antihistamines, steroids (only when needed), breathing treatments, light exercise, you name it. She started out this winter so strong and I was insanely proud! It's been a super warm winter though, then BOOM; the temperature dropped to 11 degrees overnight. I stalled her, but it wasn't enough. She's never had (or needed) a blanket in her life but she was shivering violently. I immediately put my heaviest blanket on her, kept hay in front of her 24/7 (it was anyway, in a hay net), heated her water, and called the vet as soon as he was open. He came out and said her breathing was very bad; she had started a strong flare up, and he wasn't sure she would recover. On top of that, her front hooves had a strong pulse which he suspects may be the start of laminitis.

He gave her a nice big steroid shot as well as a triple dose of antihistimines and gave me bute for her feet. He said if she has not improved in 2-3 days there's nothing more he can do and he would recommend putting her down.

We are now on day 2, and to be honest there's not a lot of improvement. She is excited about her grain and is happy when I come see her; she's still there mentally. She picks at her hay and sips her water, but not much. She does finish the grain, though. Her balance and flexibility are getting better a little, but she still walks like she's walking on eggshells.

I strongly suspect she's only doing better because of the pain killers, and because it's now in the 40's again. Even so, her breathing is still labored.

Where do I go from here? I said I would give her until Monday, and if she wasn't better by then I'd let her go. But she's still there mentally and it's breaking my heart. Another fear I have is that the breathing may clear up, but she will turn out to be laminitic. Do I try to put her through the months of rehab and recovery, knowing she will most likely not survive the next cold snap? And even if she does, I don't think it's right to put her through another winter. Do I put her through months of rehab and pain so she can have maybe 3/4 more months of life?

The vet has already told me she's close to the end and to be prepared. He warned me that I could keep her alive in a stall, but that's not the quality of life she is used to/wants.

I'm trying to think of ways to keep her going. I can get her therapy boots for her feet so she gets a little turnout, blanket her ahead of time next time we have a cold snap (we likely will; we live in the Midwest and winter storms are fair game until Easter) and keep her on her meds. My husband thinks I'm being a little selfish now, but I feel like I'm giving up on her if I put her down now.

I really don't have anyone else to ask about this who will understand. This mare means everything to me. We've been through so much together, and she's my heart horse. Her eyes are still bright, she still has her alpha attitude, but every breath looks like it's a struggle and she can barely walk..... Do I let her keep fighting, or is it time to let go?:(

Please be kind, I've never had to make this decision before and I'm quite literally sick over it:(
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post #2 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 12:40 PM
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Oh dear. So sorry to read about this struggle.

I have had to euthanize horses, for various reasons, and it is always hard and hurts so much

One thing I might have missed, how old is this horse?

Also does she have allergies to hay or just not interested?

I have had horses that were allergic and developed heaves (COPD) so had to go on a hay free diet.

I have also had horses that because of age could not longer chew or digest hay.
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post #3 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 12:44 PM
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Also has any bloodwork been pulled to check for Cushings or Lyme's?

Personally I have never heard of Laminitis being linked to COPD, but of course ineffective breathing can affect other parts of the body.

Older horses, like older people, have little resistance from temperature extremes so blankets are needed in the cold.
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post #4 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 12:45 PM
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I am so sorry to hear you are dealing with this.

It is never an easy thing. How old is she? Have you thought about getting a second opinion from a different vet?

It is a very difficult decision to make, but you have to consider the quality of life. You will know when to make that call. Just keep her comfortable (which you have been).

She is a pretty girl, & it sounds like you love her very much.
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Ride more, worry less.
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post #5 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 12:59 PM
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She is very pretty and has such a nice, bright alert expression!
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post #6 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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She is 18 years old and has been seen by multiple vets. Her teeth are up to date and are in fairly good shape; she was eating hay perfectly fine until the cold hit, so I doubt it's her teeth. She has had blood work done and is negative for Cushing's or Lyme. She reacts horribly to alfalfa and straw and hay with mold, so I am extremely careful about my hay. Right now she is fed vet approved hay; extremely clean, green, and not dusty. I can't afford a hay free diet so she is fed top quality free choice hay and it is always netted. She never seems to react to that, but she does react to pollen, harvest season and extreme heat/extreme cold.

She is walking much better today and was able to be turned out for an hour to stretch her legs and get fresh air. She's longer walking on eggshells but does have a slight limp, though I'm not sure why. Her breathing is still labored, however, and she has zero energy or interest in anything. She just stands in the stall or the paddock, eyes wide and breathing..... It just feels wrong:(
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post #7 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 01:02 PM
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I think you already know the answer to your question. How old is your mare?

There is the saying better a day to soon then a day late.

Unfortunately the horses we love and care for ,get to the point we have to make that difficult disision. Just know putting her down is the last kind act of love.

I've been through this almost now two years ago. Never easy but I know I did the right thing.

Sounds like you're mare isn't going to truely be better. Give her till Monday if not improved 98 percent then it time to let her go. If she's struggling to breathe that isn't good.

Sorry your going through this, beautiful mare btw.

Edited to add ,I see she's doing better give her more time. She's only 18 so I'd see how she continues here. I thought she was maybe really old.

Out riding my horse.
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post #8 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HisMissus2013 View Post
She is 18 years old and has been seen by multiple vets. Her teeth are up to date and are in fairly good shape; she was eating hay perfectly fine until the cold hit, so I doubt it's her teeth. She has had blood work done and is negative for Cushing's or Lyme. She reacts horribly to alfalfa and straw and hay with mold, so I am extremely careful about my hay. Right now she is fed vet approved hay; extremely clean, green, and not dusty. I can't afford a hay free diet so she is fed top quality free choice hay and it is always netted. She never seems to react to that, but she does react to pollen, harvest season and extreme heat/extreme cold.

She is walking much better today and was able to be turned out for an hour to stretch her legs and get fresh air. She's longer walking on eggshells but does have a slight limp, though I'm not sure why. Her breathing is still labored, however, and she has zero energy or interest in anything. She just stands in the stall or the paddock, eyes wide and breathing..... It just feels wrong:(
My COPD horse had to have no hay, but have had others that I soaked the hay and they were fine.

Winter was the hardest time for him. Spring I could bring him back into condition. He also had Albuterol tablets (crushed in applesauce)


We even vacuumed him to get all the dust off his body.

I'm wondering if your horse has just picked up a respiratory infection that is making everything worse temporarily.

IMO 18 is not old...even for a COPD horse...
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post #9 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 01:12 PM
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Do you have a neck cover? Might help warm up her throat. Cold air can't be good.
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post #10 of 35 Old 01-24-2020, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnitaAnne View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by HisMissus2013 View Post
She is 18 years old and has been seen by multiple vets. Her teeth are up to date and are in fairly good shape; she was eating hay perfectly fine until the cold hit, so I doubt it's her teeth. She has had blood work done and is negative for Cushing's or Lyme. She reacts horribly to alfalfa and straw and hay with mold, so I am extremely careful about my hay. Right now she is fed vet approved hay; extremely clean, green, and not dusty. I can't afford a hay free diet so she is fed top quality free choice hay and it is always netted. She never seems to react to that, but she does react to pollen, harvest season and extreme heat/extreme cold.

She is walking much better today and was able to be turned out for an hour to stretch her legs and get fresh air. She's longer walking on eggshells but does have a slight limp, though I'm not sure why. Her breathing is still labored, however, and she has zero energy or interest in anything. She just stands in the stall or the paddock, eyes wide and breathing..... It just feels wrong:(
My COPD horse had to have no hay, but have had others that I soaked the hay and they were fine.

Winter was the hardest time for him. Spring I could bring him back into condition. He also had Albuterol tablets (crushed in applesauce)


We even vacuumed him to get all the dust off his body.

I'm wondering if your horse has just picked up a respiratory infection that is making everything worse temporarily.

IMO 18 is not old...even for a COPD horse...
I understand 18 is not that old. You have to understand that I've only owned her for 4 years. When I bought her she was in horrible condition; she had never had her teeth done, she was severely underweight and she had had 4 babies with no vet care or consideration. She was already heavey when I bought her (I didn't know any better) and improved, but after 2 years she did get an upper respiratory infection that kicked it into overdrive. We've been struggling ever since.

I know 18 isn't that old, and trust me I feel like dirt, but she looks like she's 18 going on 107. The vet said he would never believe she was 18 if she didnt have the papers. We've tried everything we can AFFORD and everything I can reasonably do. I have two kids under 5 so time and money is not something I have a lot of; I do my best.

I tried rehoming her in the past to see if someone better equipped could take her. I even reached out to several rescues and they all told me if she didn't improve and they couldn't adopt her our she would be put to sleep. I can't give her everything possible, but I do love her and thought it would be better for her to spend her last year's with someone who loves her instead of strangers. I'm doing my best, but it's not enough. Honestly I don't know how much more I can afford to do. I'd love to, but I only work part time and we're scraping by as it is.
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