The aging horse and Cushing's disease
It is difficult to say at what age a horse is “old”: some are old at 12 years old and others are still young at 20 years old. But from a certain age, all horses are, like their human partners, confronted with certain infirmities of old age: muscle and joint stiffness, poor teeth, reduced immunity, “lazy” digestion, etc.
It is important to provide the elderly horse with balanced food, adapted to its age and physical condition. It is particularly important to ensure the digestibility of the ration; flaked foods or muesli are therefore preferable. We will increase the protein level up to 13%, but monitor their quality so as not to overload the liver. Fiber levels will be reduced due to the reduced efficiency of digestion in the large intestine. Reduce the straw gradually, to avoid colic.
To stimulate digestion, it is advisable to give a cup of oil per day. You can supplement the food with garlic and fenugreek , mint, apple cider vinegar or a supplement adapted to the needs of seniors like the Veteran Supplement .
The liver and kidneys are the organs that age the earliest: good drainage twice a year can only be beneficial: Equi'drink Drainage . If your horse is losing some condition without appearing ill, then have his teeth checked. If a course of drainage combined with a course of Biotics does not lead to any improvement, then contact your veterinarian for a hepatorenal assessment.
Many older horses are sensitive to seasonal changes, especially in spring and fall, we easily see them losing condition.
Molting periods also require a lot of energy. You can support them during this period with Spirulina , Equi'drink Immunotonic and a course of Veteran Supplement or Equine Iodamine .
To avoid stiffness and congestion, leave your horse in the meadow as much as possible. For stiffness in general, Equi'mélange Anti-stiffness is an excellent product.
Short, calm walks will give him great pleasure, both for his physical state and for his “morale”. We must prevent the “retired” horse from feeling abandoned, he loves company!
Cushing's disease mainly occurs in aging horses or pony. It is a benign tumor of the pituitary gland which, through the secretion of peptides, acts on the adrenal glands. These glands then increase their production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Excessive cortisol production leads to many consequences, including:
*hirsutism: a thick coat, often curly, which can even change color and which the horse no longer sheds in summer;
*polyuria-polydypsia: the horse drinks and urinates a lot, it has excessive thirst;
*polyphagia: increased appetite: the horse eats a lot but does not gain weight;
*apathy: he looks tired, sluggish, and sweats easily and profusely;
*muscle wasting; very noticeable at the back;
*decrease in immune defenses, with the consequence: increased sensitivity to all kinds of infections: oral, skin, foot abscesses but also pulmonary;
*wounds are more easily formed, which heal slowly;
*it is more susceptible to chronic laminitis and insulin resistance (see also the Digestion – insulin resistance file);
*the metabolism of fats, sugars and proteins is disturbed, so a blood test often shows an increase in fats, hyperglycemia, anemia and a drop in lymphocytes;
Your veterinarian can confirm the diagnosis "Cushing's disease" with a blood and urine test.
A curative treatment does not exist, there are certain medications (against Parkinson's disease in humans) which have a positive effect, but which do not prevent the tumor from continuing to grow. In general, this type of tumor does not metastasize.
It is necessary to monitor the general condition, the wounds, the teeth; possibly mow and cover, monitor the water, provide a clean box and do not require physical effort.
Deworm properly… in agreement with your veterinarian.
Give good quality food, low in starch and sugar.
Take Equi'drink Drainage treatments at least twice a year for the liver and kidneys, combined with Biotics treatments for the intestines.
You can support your horse with Equi'drink Immunotonic or Cushinaze .