I went to see Bonita, the horse with laminitis, yesterday and she is doing fantastic. Her blood work last month showed her ACTH levels were still high and she still had an elevated pulse in her hind feet indicating her pituitary tumor was still preventing full healing of her laminitis. Laminitis in horses is not something that is cured quickly and Bonita is a perfect example of this.
Based on my evaluation last month I increased Bonita’s pergolide to 1mg twice a day and that seemed to make a big difference. She is walking even better and her pulse in her back hooves is completely normal. I am a bit concerned because she is gaining weight back quickly even on the tight ration. I cut her feed back slightly and suggested she have a bit more work in her lessons with the kids. I did a bowen session on her to keep her muscles relaxed and she had some nice releases over her shoulders. I am sure she has some lingering muscle spasms from spending so many months with her weight shifted forward off her sore back legs.
Last month when I visited Bonita I also checked 2 other horses in the barn. One was a mare that had aborted a foal 2 years in a row and I suspected she could have some metabolic issues. She had a very cresty neck and indeed her lab work came back suggesting insulin resistance and early cushings. Even though this horse looked like she was a candidate for laminitis I decided to wait on drugs and see what we could do with diet and her owners felt like she was already looking better on the low carb diet we started her on.
Another horse I looked at was an 8 year old that had just come back from a trainer. This horse was thin, rough coated and drinking and peeing much more than normal. His hooves were long and unbalanced and his teeth were very sharp. I did a full blood work up on him and even though he was awfully young to think about cushings I did the ACTH test on him as well. He came back with a very high ACTH test to my surprise but I was not ready to start him on drugs until I had a chance to address all his other challenges. When I saw him this week he looked like a different horse. He had been dewormed with a panacur power pak, had his teeth floated, had his feet trimmed, started on packets of algae, probiotics and enzymes and been turned out with a buddy. His weight was good and he had a shine on his coat and in his eye.
This example proves that even though lab work can be a big help in diagnosing laminitis in horses you can have other things affecting blood results so you have to put together the whole picture. Here is an example of three horses with similar lab results but very different clinical pictures and who all responded well to different approaches to treatment. Madalyn