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Old 02-23-2006, 10:16 PM  
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COPD in my senior horse *Now with Pics*

My horse has very severe COPD and is 17 years old. The problem other than COPD is that I cannot keep weight or muscle on him! I have tried a weight builder supplement, a muscle building supplement, soaking beet pulp, soaked alfalfa pellets, a senior designed feed, and good pasture and hay. Not only is he under weight, but he's lost a lot of muscling. I recently relocated him because I moved and where he was before there were a lot of mountains and hills for him to travel at his pleasure and kept him in fair condition alone. Well now where he's at, there is only one hill. And his COPD conflicts with any chance of riding him to build his muscling back because his condition flares up and can take a long time to recover. I've given him a supplement called AniHist which helped but not as well as I'd hoped. My vet has given me medical options to assist his COPD, but I really cannot afford the medications and shots he suggested. I do everything I can to keep his condition as calm as possible. How can I keep weight and muscle on a horse I cannot ride along with COPD to make matters worse??

P.S. I plan on taking photos of how he looks now compared to the photos you've all seen. I'm also planning on getting his teeth floated within the next month or so and hoping that will help! And if anyone needs more information to lend me information, please ask.
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Old 02-24-2006, 06:26 AM  
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Hi! We had a 16 yr old TWHBEA mare that also suffered from severe COPD. Alot of our options for her were quiet expensive. We ended up having to give her shots (very pricey), cant remember what they were but they helped quiet a bit. Her teeth were fine. In the colder months when there would be hay out and no grass we noticed she always lost loads of weight and her condition would worsen. But generally as long as she had plenty of good grass to eat with some occasional grain she would gain all her weight back and be pretty comfortable without shots or any special meds!
I would definately have his teeth checked the sooner the better. How long has he been loosing weight?? Possibly he may be the same way our mare was and gain most of his weight back when there is more grass! Of coarse this is soley based on my only experience with COPD. Good luck with him and keep us updated!
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Old 02-24-2006, 06:34 AM  
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We give our COPD mare 5cc of dexamethasone by mouth 4 times per day and slowly wean her down when she is having a flare up this keeps her in pretty good shape she seems to keep her weight and muscleing up. We also use albuteral 10cc by mouth 3 times per day to keep her good, so we use this everyday. We also keep a nebulizer around incase she is having a really bad time and she seems to keep pretty confortable with these meds
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Old 02-24-2006, 06:35 AM  
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One of my oldies improved dramatically after a 3 week course of steroids, if I recall correctly we started her off on a pretty high dose then gradually weaned her back off, from twice daily to once daily, to every other day.
COPD is tough, I wish your horse the best!
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Old 02-24-2006, 11:09 AM  
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Sundance has only been losing weight since I moved him and that was around late summer/early fall. And yeah, now that its winter he's lost even more. The vet gave me the shot option (can't remember what it was called) but it was expensive. I'm debating on where I'm going to keep him this summer, I'm hoping to move him back to my grandparent's place (where he was before) but I'm not 100% sure if it will happen or not. I'm waiting to see how thick the grass is this summer. It kind of seems like COPD is a curse in my family because my grandpa used to have a horse that had it too.

treasure1 - are those meds expensive? They sound like they might be...

oldnag - could you please tell me more about the steroids you mentioned? Like what exactly they were, how you administered them, cost, etc?
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Old 02-24-2006, 11:55 AM  
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Horses with COPD generally lose body condition because of the effort they have to use to breathe. A COPD horse can burn just as much fat and calories trying to breathe as a race horse does racing. Amazing but true.

A diet of Senior Feed, Weight Builder and the right medications should help him/her gain weight. Also, wetting/soaking hay helps immensely. You may even consider feeding Alfalfa pellets or cubes in place of hay as they are a bit less dusty.

Dexamethasone is a steriod that will help but has ill side effects. If you can manage the Heaves with Albuterol or an anti-histamine that is better for the horse.

Dexamethasone costs about $12 a bottle. If your horse is severe you will go through a bottle or more a month.

Albuterol is a tablet and horses usually take between 6 tablets daily. They cost about $40 for 80 tablets.

Your vet can perscribe Albuterol, Dexamethasone. Vetipulmin, or An anti histamine.

I have had many heavey horses in the past, and have one now If you have any Qs don't hesitate to PM me.
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Old 02-24-2006, 07:09 PM  
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I have a 19 yo gelding that has COPD. His mostly only flares up in the summer, or if I have to stall him. He goes on prednisone when that happens. Prednisone is also a steroid. For day to day managing, he does better on a sweet feed (equine senior works too, since it's soft and squishy) and alfalfa hay, or wet down coastal hay. As much turn out as possible is necessary. Just a few hours in a stall will get Duke hacking.

As for weight gain, you could try this stuff called Moorglo. I just got it to put weight on my 26 year old TB gelding. I've heard wonderful things about it. I'm not sure if anyone carries it near you, but here's a site about it. http://www.admani.com/AllianceEquine/MoorGlo.htm It was $20 for a 40lb bag at my feed store, but you feed less than a lb a day.
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Old 02-24-2006, 07:29 PM  
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That MoorGlo or any of their products are awesome. But since I can't get them within a reasonable driving distance I have been feeding Nutrena's Empower which is similar but slightly more expensive ($24-26) a bag. I've gotten the same results. I had one of our yearling colts on it since October and stopped feeding it for the last month because he was keeping weight on really nicely. I just put him back on it because he was loosing weight really quickly without seeming to go through any growth spurts.
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Old 02-24-2006, 09:12 PM  
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Winter is hard for horses with COPD, they get a double hit. first, the air is dryer and more irritating, and second, they are stalled more and fed hay, witch is dusty.


Here are a few other things you can do to help him feel better during the winter.

Feed his grain in wide, shallow pans - buckets and feeders will force him to inhale the dust from the feed. Even sweet feed has some dust. You can also moisten or soak his grain before feeding. Since he is underweight, you could also mix in some oil to trap the dust even further.

Feed him alfalfa hay, or cubes, these have less dust. You can cut the dust even further by spritzing his hay with watered down molasses - mix it up in a spray bottle and spray his hay while tossing it until it ges sticky. You can also use soda-pop, or light oil. You could soak his hay instead, but adding caloris isn't a problem, since he is a hard keeper.

His grain, hay, water and salt should be as close to the ground as possible, if not on the ground. A heads-down posture helps horses clear their lungs, and prevents some of the dust getting as far inside. If he tips his buckets and feed pans on the ground, put them in an old tire to make them more stable. the idea is to keep his head down as much as possible - part of the reason he is better during the warmer months is bacause of all the time he spends with his nose to the ground grazing.

When he is in the stall, dampen the shavings in the stall and stalls next to him. Use the sprayer to mist the area. Don't soak them, but spray lots of water around and up in the air to catch some of the dust.
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Old 02-24-2006, 09:59 PM  
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Here are some "before & after" photos of Sundance since I've relocated him. I just took them today around 5:00 p.m. Plus its winter, so thats another knock off. And if he looks this bad under all that winter wooly, I can't imagine what he'd look like with out it . He's more "sunk in" around his topline. His withers, back, and hind quarters. His ribs aren't quite as visible in the photos as they are in person. (And I used to think he looked bad before I never imagined he could look like this!)










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Old 02-25-2006, 05:24 PM  
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The albuteral is around $20 a bottle it lasts about 3 weeks i get a bottle of dexamethasone for around $25 a bottle lasts about a month not very expensive Depending on your vet and how much they charge mine always gives them to me arounf cost
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