Equine Medical Conditions & Treatments
Steroid induced laminitis can happen in rare cases. When evaluating risk, corticosteroids are comparable to other anti-inflammatories and the benefits out weigh the risks. For healthy adult horses the risk of steroid induced laminits is very, very low.
Horses with certain medical conditions, while the risk is still very low, are more likely to experience a laminitic episode. Those condition include, but are not limited to, horses that are overweight, are insulin resistant, who suffer from Cushing’s disease, or those who have had a recent occurrence of laminitis.
Most commonly, owners report that they are more fluid one direction or another. We also see a reluctance to jump straight or drift to one side of a jump. Barrel horses often start ducking barrels, veering wide or losing competitive times.
Often horses with hock pain will have shorter strides and develop what is referred to as a stabbing gait. All breeds and disciplines of horses can experience these problems though the way they manifest is dependent on use. It’s typically a feeling the owner’s sense that their horse is simply not giving them 100%.
Having your horse’s hocks injected is a decision only you, along with guidance from your primary vet, can make. There are many reasons to have a horse’s hocks injected. These include chronic hock pain from conditions such as bone spavin or osteoarthritis. Hock injections can also be used as a preventive treatment. A horse athlete’s joints respond to the rigors of training much like their human athlete counterparts. Injecting the hock joints helps to keep the joints lubricated and reduce swelling.
There has been concern in the past that the steroids contained in the injection did more damage than good and sped up the arthritic development in the joints. In years past this was a valid concern. The steroids we use today are less damaging to the joints, making them safer to use and when combined with the hyaluronic acid, synthetic joint fluid, the effects are greatly amplified.
Each owner should weigh the advantages and disadvantages, along with the guidance of your veterinarian, when determining if injecting their horse’s hocks is the appropriate treatment.
If caught early, Cushing’s Disease is treatable. Unfortunately, it is not curable. There are medications available to control symptoms of the disease but no known surgical treatment or drug is currently available to remove the tumor from the pituitary gland.
To catch the disease early you should make yourself familiar with the symptoms of Cushing’s disease. If you suspect you horse is presenting signs of Cushing’s disease, please contact your primary care veterinarian to start a treatment plan. As always, each of the veterinarians at the Mid-Rivers Equine Centre is happy to assist you in evaluating your horse for Cushing’s disease and developing a treatment plan.
Yes, Cushing’s Disease compromises your horse’s immune system putting it at a greater risk of contracting infection. The reason is these horses have higher levels of circulating natural steroids which depress/suppress the immune system. Wounds and scrapes may not heal on their own and could require medications. It is also important to work with your vet to create an appropriate worming schedule, as horses with Cushing’s Disease will be less equipped to ward off parasites.