If your beloved horse has been diagnosed with Cushing's disease, then you might be feeling unsure about how to deal with it.
Finding out that your horse has Cushing's disease can be crushing, especially when they have been a member of your family for years. But the important thing to remember that it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.
There may not be a cure, but there are plenty of ways Cushing's disease can be managed. With the proper veterinary care and good nutrition, equine Cushing's disease is easily manageable.
To help your properly care for your horse, here are our top ten nutrition tips:
1. Avoid high cereal feeds
For a horse with Cushing's disease, it’s important to avoid feeding them a feed with a high cereal content. Instead of cereal based feeds, opt for fiber-based options.
Cushing’s disease in horses can cause weight gain. So it’s important that if your horse suffers from the disease, that you avoid high-fat content foods. For instance, feeds that are high in cereals contain more fats, and so, will make your horse gain weight more quickly.
2. Feed little and often
Instead of feeding your horse two big meals each day, swap to feeding them little and often. It might take more effort, but small feeds throughout the day are what Cushing's horses need.
The reason that it’s best to feed your horse little and often, is because it helps to avoid peaks and dips in glucose levels. For optimum results, ideally you want to be feeding your horse four small meals a day.
3. Soak your hay
In warm weather, soak your hay for no more than six hours. In colder weather, hay can be soaked for up to 12 hours if necessary.
While some horse owners choose not to soak their hay, for horses with Cushing's disease, soaking hay is vital. Soaking your hay will remove dust, additives, and preservatives, and will reduce the WSC by around 40 percent.
4. Help your horse gain weight
If your horse is underweight - some Cushing's horses lose weight, use their food to help them build their weight back up.
The best way to help boost your horse’s weight is by feeding them food that is high in fiber and oil, low in starch. If you are unsure which brand of food is best for your horse, make sure to consult your vet or a horse nutritionist for advice.
5. Make all diet changes slowly
Don’t make the mistake of changing your horse’s diet too quickly, all nutritional changes must be made slowly. Changing a horse’s diet too quickly can be dangerous, so it is important that you take your time when doing so.
If you are increasing or reducing your horse’s grain, it’s best to do so at half a pound a day. If your are reducing your horse’s grain, make sure to do so gradually, over a two-week period.
If you decide to change your pony’s hay, do so slowly, mixing the two types together and gradually phasing out the old brand.
By following these simple tips, managing your horse's Cushing's disease should be too tricky.