Makyla... & thyroid & cushings symptoms

Robin <Eclectk1@...>

Hi Makyla,

I'm not sure, & without taking the time to find out, I'm suspecting
that onelist is blocking actual email addys... so I'll divide mine up
-- just take out the spaces between the @ sign and the rest of the
addy. Its:


hopefully that worked, its just Or just post it here with
title "FAQ Contribution" and I can find them easily that way.

Lets see if I can answer your questions.

Yes, my vet talked to me quite a bit about diet and thinks its pretty
important (now that's impressive, this guy is an old COWBOY, so if
HE's thinking diet, I'm convinced its very important).

The problem with cushings is that even if the horse isn't yet
diabetic, they are probably on the road or already quite insulin
intolerant. The low carb rings some bells too, but I'm not as
certain about that -- I do know he was adamant about getting her OFF
of the alfalfa, he felt that there was no question her diet
contributed to her latest bout of founder. Fortunate thing is that I
caught it quickly. Note, she is NOT too heavy, nor are there any
other factors or changes (didn't get into feed or anything) that
would predispose her to have foundered. The ONLY change was that
approx. 1 month prior to her foundering, the barn owner/manager
decided ON HER OWN without consulting me that perhaps my mare was
getting too much thyroid supplement -- and cut it to a third of what
it had been consistently for THREE YEARS. Two weeks later her winter
coat began growing in (in very hot weather). That was when I
discovered on questioning her that the thyrol-l had been cut and had
her increase it. The vet and I both feel it was pretty obvious that
it is the Cushings and thyrol-l decrease that caused the founder.

Diet changes can help significantly according to this vet. He had me
take her off Alfalfa entirely. He had me put her on RICE BRAN as the
primary source of nutrition (very low carb I believe, very high
fat/nutritients I'm sure), with a bit of Purina Eq. Sr. also -- but
was quite clear that the most important was to limit Alfalfa, grains,
and sugar.

I would be quite concerned if my mare began going thru water & salt &
peeing like that (note, also, if you just switched to Alfalfa it can
contribute to those symptoms... so going from the grass hay to
alfalfa may be causing the difference you are noting... I really
don't think Bute would contribute to it. Alfalfa is very high in
Calcium, very low Phosphorus relatively speaking, and triggers
increased drinking & peeing compared to grass hay/pasture.)

In retrospect, I think that any diet changes along these lines that
you can reasonably make will probably help prevent problems and are
probably worth doing before there are even any symptoms (diabetes)
that would force a change.

There is an earlier post, I believe where I talked a good bit about
Thyroid supplements, why, how they work, what they help with. The
pergolide is your MAIN treatment, and treats the disease much
better. If, when on an appropriate amount of pergolid there are
still some thyroid signs, its my understanding that thyroid
supplements can still be quite beneficial. You probably use a lot
less this way too, than if you don't use pergolide or cyproheptadine
and only usse thyroid.

Note: Thyroid testing is virtually worthless unless the results come
back terribly terribly low -- to be useful, you have to pull SEVERAL
on different days and at different times, then compare them and look
at the average values... that gets to be REALLY expensive and
probably isn't worth it. My understanding -- CHECK WITH YOUR VET --
is that if you SUSPECT your horse might benefit from Thyroid
supplement, it cannot hurt if you start with a low dose, and then
taper off and quite giving it if you see no effect within a month.

I didn't think my mare was lethargic. She was literally a NEW horse
in a day and a half after starting thyrol-l. She came when called.
She was happy to get groomed/scritched on, she PLAYED with the other
horses!! That was over 5 years ago, I still feel guilty to this day
that I didn't recognize it sooner & just attributed it to 'well, she
IS getting older, but she's not really lethargic.' She was.

Hypothyroid symptoms are quite variable and your horse may have one
or more of the following -- they are MOST recognizable when you can
think back and compare what the horse was like several years ago...
problem is that some horses are quite normal and quite healthy and
will have some of these attitudes (not hair coat, but attitude/energy

Winter haircoat fails to shed

Winter/summer haircoat is longer and possibly wavy/curly too than it
used to be several years ago, and when compared to several other
younger horses.

Horse lives 'on air' and has patchy fat in one or more of the
following locations -- big and overly hard/firm crest, flabby almost
edema feeling behind elbow right in the girth area low on their
sides, around the dock of the tail, around the withers.

As it gets worse, horse begins to have muscles atrophy -- this seems
to be most noticable on the upper thigh between their hind legs --
lift tail up and 'hey! Where'd all the muscle go?!!' This results
in a horse that is skinny/ribby at the same time as having a ton of
patchy fat (which makes it particularly easy to let them get too thin
in winter under that wooly buggar hair coat they get!!!!)

I've heard sunken back, sway back, pot belly, but haven't seen this

Horse gets irritable & "don't touch me" sort of attitude, may begin
pinning ears more when groomed, doesn't want to be scritched on
(apparently hypothyroid actually makes it uncomfortable for skin to
be touched manipulated!)

Horse gets lethargic (may NOT be noticable when riding), may drag or
scuff hind toes instead of picking feet all the way up, may walking
away when you go to catch them instead of coming up like they used
to, may watch others run & play but walk sedately along instead of
joining in. Last to come up for feedings, walks up. You may think
they are just getting "quieter with age." Or that its a normal part
of ageing -- its NOT.

I haven't tried the ABC's Cushings supplement, what is it? If they
are the 'holistic' or 'all natural' place, I'd personally be very
very leery, I am virtually certain that there haven't been any well
planned and well executed clinical trials with any herbs or other
'all natural' products for Cushings. You can with all good
intentions make things worse trying stuff like that.

My best to all of you and hope this helps some & I'm not just

Desert Springs Sport Horses
(best viewed in explorer 4.x or newer)

Kay Howitt <akkray@...>

Robin, I thought it interesting that many of the symptoms you described as
being signs of thyroid insufficiency are also symptoms of Cushings. I guess
that's one reason why Cushings is not also diagnosed early enough. I
remember asking if my horse had a thyroid problem back a few years ago when
his hair coat showed irregularities and he had some other changes. The
thyroid tests didn't show anything really wrong and we didn't explore
further until last year, when slow-healing was the tip-off.

I also felt guilty, but I think none of us should beat ourselves up over
missing this. The vets should be picking Cushings up more...I actually felt
a bit angry at first, as I could have been treating the Cushings for at
least 2 years prior to the first laminitis episode and probably prevented
it. One thing I've learned about horses, is that you can always look back
and have regrets or say you should have done this or that. That's just the
way hindsight works and I try to not beat myself up too much anymore as I am
doing the best I can at any given time. Just my thoughts...Kay