I have been researching Cushings disease recently because over the last 18 months, she started exhibiting a long hair coat in the summer (but not super thick as a winter coat) and in early to mid March she blows her coat. I have consulted with my vet and we both suspect Cushings, but will be arranging for a blood draw to confirm the disease. She is showing decreased muscling along her top line, but she really isn't developing the fat deposits or crusty neck. She does have the hay belly, but overall, she is looking and feeling well. I suspect we are in an early stage of disease development.
For her feet, she has always had dishing of the feet since she was a baby. Early in her endurance career she was always shod unless she had a foal. My farrier and I think that she may have had gestational founder at one point but other than the dish in the feet, she has always been sound, always had good energy and is stable.
One thing I have researched and can't find an answer too, is how long can a horse expect to live with Cushings? At 28, I know we are at the upper ranges of a typical horses age and I think she will be with me for several years more. She is retired to being the Alpha mare in her herd so she doesn't have do work very hard.
Currently she is being fed Alphalfa hay out of Idaho, and she gets 2 measuring cups of cracked corn. So far her body weight is good, her attitude is good and she has the desire and energy to push her family off of their food tubs at meal time to remind everyone she is boss. I was feeding her beet pulp last year, but she, along with a couple of my other horses developed stomach ulcers due to the sugars in the feed so I took her off of it. She has the same problem with pelleted senior feeds as well.
My question is this - as the horse ages with this disease, will I see stages of progression? At what point do you choose to put them down? Do they all get severe laminitis? Or will another age related illness be the end point?
I lost another mare 2 years ago to a stroke when she was 26 so having a horse with cushings is new to me.
Thank you in advance.