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Your horse is an important part of your life, and like most people, you want the best care possible for him or her, especially when they become ill. Cushing’s disease is a problem found in many older horses that greatly affects its health; however, it can be controllable with the proper diet, vitamins and supplements.

Symptoms of Cushing’s
Cushing’s disease has several symptoms. An easily noticeable symptom is your horse will appear to have a long thick coat. Many horses grow thick coats for the winter and shed it out in the summer. Horses with Cushing’s disease will have a noticeably thick coat all year long. They will also develop excessive thirst and can drink three or four times as much water than they normally would. Some horses can also suffer from tooth and hoof rot, as well as developing lameness issues. 

Effects of Cushing’s Disease on Horses
Cushing’s disease primarily affects older horses. It's caused by the malfunctioning of the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland is responsible for regulating hormones, which controls a number of important bodily functions, such as growth, metabolism, and the immune system.

Horses that have metabolism problems as a result of Cushing’s will also develop other problems such as diabetes. Diabetes can lead to severe weight gain, even if your horse is fed a minimal amount of hay or grain. Weight gain then leads to other problems with the joints, hips and feet of the horse.

Diet Solutions
Fortunately, there are diet plans and supplements that can help minimize the effects of Cushing’s disease. If your horse has weight issues, it's imperative that you do not feed your horse any treats or grain with high amounts of carbohydrates and sugars. Sugar cubes, apples, sweet feed and other things high in carbohydrates and sugars should be eliminated. 

Instead, feed your horse a diet that is high in protein and fiber; seek out types of feeds that meet your requirements or find feeds specially formulated for horses with Cushing’s disease. Your horse should also be given vitamins and minerals such as salt, magnesium, chromium, vanadium and sulfur. A salt and mineral block is perfect for helping a horse stay in excellent health. It allows your horse to feed as needed to get its appropriate levels of nutrients. 

As with every other part of your equine care, please consult with your veterinarian.

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