Equine Cushings Disease or PPID

26th March 2014 by

Cushing’s Disease

Last month we called the vet out to Pepsi as he suddenly went lame. His tendon was up slightly and there was a small amount of heat in his hoof by the coronary band. Jo Dyson, the Vet came from Liphook Equine Hospital and gave him a thorough check over. Basically she couldn’t really find very much wrong, but as there was some heat, she suggested poulticing for a few days and a course of Bute.  She also took a blood test to check for Cushing’s disease, because of his age, big woolly coat and general demeanour.

We kept him up at HQ for a few days in a small paddock with access to the beautiful new horse shelter, poulticed twice daily and administered the Bute. We kept Bali with him whilst she was treated with Ventipulmin for her breathing which had deteriorated earlier in the winter after eating some hay, but had greatly improved on haylage. Jo said her breathing was not too bad, not too many “bees”, but a week of Ventipulmin would help clear her airways, which it duly did.

Pepsi was absolutely fine after a couple of days but when I spoke to Jo she confirmed that he does indeed have Cushing’s disease and is therefore very susceptible to laminitis and infection as his immune system is affected. She prescribed Prascend for the rest of his life which should help to keep him laminitis free and comfortable. It is an expensive drug at £1.35 per day, but if it keeps him well then so be it!  We were debating the various methods of administering a pill every day and came up with Trebor Softmints which, once chewed a bit, become soft enough to mould the pill in the middle and down it goes.  I tried grapes this morning but he spat them out, so I’m grateful I remembered to test the grape before inserting the Prascend!

I was really dreading the vet saying that Pepsi should spend the summer on a bare patch of earth with no grass. He is 23 now and retired so to deprive him of grass for the rest of his life would have been cruel. I was prepared to say goodbye if that were the case.. but it’s not and now he is on his drugs for ever! Maybe we retired him too early, maybe his tripping was all to do with Cushing’s, we will never know for sure!

He has always been a bit of a lazy boy. I actually bought him rather naively thinking a bit lazy meant safe. He is also very, very handsome which sort of made up for his foibles.  He was good fun really, he liked jumping, but liked putting in a massive buck immediately after the jump even more. He liked cantering, but preferred a ridiculously fast trot. He liked trotting, but preferred to walk or amble, and in later life he added tripping over to his many little foibles.  He nibbles everything. Chewing reins, grabbing everything in his mouth and fidgets right through tacking up, noseband in mouth, shaking head and sometimes he completely freaks out and turns into a monster that no-one can get near.

The list of people he managed to buck off is quite long, starting with Heidi when she was about 6 and she landed in her mother’s arms luckily! Andy was lobbed over the top and broke his collar-bone. Tracy fell off him several times when jumping. Sam came out the side door a few times and there have been many others over the years. I gave up riding him when he bucked very large one day in the road, and whilst I stayed on just, I suddenly realised how close I had come to being broken on the tarmac. It was time to call it a day. Kate carried on riding him for a couple of years and Tracy sometimes, but it was hard work!

For the past few months, Pepsi has been in a section of the field with our other geldings, Merlin and Whiskey. We put the boys in together as they need more hay than the girls. Bali, Zed and Zia are in another section on haylage, as both Bali and Zed start coughing as soon as they start eating hay. Poor old Pepsi hated being in with the boys, he was bullied and always had to wait ’til last to eat. We have now put him in his own section, with a nice long walk way, full access to hay and I can honestly say I haven’t seen him look so happy and perky for months.

Four weeks later and the blood tests went off to see if there was any improvement. We  also collected poo samples for worm counts all round as horses with Cushing’s can be more prone to worms.  But the worm count came back at zero. and the blood tests showed that the levels for Cushing’s were down from 139 to 69. However Jo said that she would like to see that around 35 so the dose has been increased by half for another month and then we shall see if we can get it down again.   Let’s hope the summer brings nice weather and plenty of grass for him to enjoy!

PS Horse Shelter made from our own Chestnut by Artizans using traditional methods. Flooring for the new horse shelter by Hippo Tiles

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