Last week I did a check up exam and blood work on Bonita. It has been 8 months since her original laminitis episode and 5 months since she went home from my clinic. When Bonita came to me she had been on bute for weeks and had major resections done on both hind feet. When I did blood work on her it showed cushing’s and she did not respond to my natural treatment so I made the decision to put her on the drug, pergolide.
I took a lot of flak when I wrote in my newsletter about using the pergolide because many of my readers have had bad experiences with the drug. I believe that the other natural support treatment I did with Bonita allowed me to use a very low dose of pergolide and the drug did allow me to get her out of severe pain.
When I saw Bonita last week the resection areas of her back hooves were almost completely grown out with only minor rings indicating any continuing inflammation. On physical exam, however, I found Bonita’s hair coat to be a bit thick for the time of year and not as soft and shiny as it had been last time I saw her. Her owner reported her energy was down a bit. She was also picking at her low starch feed ration. All of this made me suspect the pergolide dose needed to be lowered. We cut the dose to .5mg twice a day until the blood work came back.
Ten days later blood work showed her ACTH levels were still elevated but exactly half what they had been on the previous test and her insulin level was down to normal. Bonita’s owner reported her energy was back and she was cleaning up her feed. Her hair was still thick but starting to shed. We decided to leave her program the same with the lowered pergolide dose and recheck her in 2 more weeks. We are starting to get more green grass now and I am concerned about stopping her pergolide completely while her ACTH is still elevated at all. I believe the higher pergolide dose was causing some toxicity but that seems to be resolving with the lower dose.
Laminitis in horses is so challenging and there are so many factors to consider. I am pretty sure Bonita would have to have been put down without the pergolide but now it could cause an equally severe problem if the dose is not monitored closely. For now, Bonita is pain free and enjoying teaching children to ride. Madalyn