Would you recognize PPID (Equine Cushing’s disease) in your horse or pony?

What is all the current talk about PPID (Equine Cushing’s disease)?  Today, Equine Cushing’s Disease is often more accurately described as PPID (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction) and is a common hormonal dysfunction in horses.  It can affect as many as 1 in 7 horses and ponies over the age of 15 but can occasionally be seen in younger horses too!

In horses affected by PPID, the pituitary gland produces an excess of hormones which can cause imbalances in a number of your horse’s normal bodily functions.  This can cause a whole range of problems that vary in severity according to how far the disease has progressed.

What should you be watching out for?

PPID symptoms are diverse and vary in severity according to the disease stage. Here is a more inclusive list of some of the signs you might see:

Early

  • Laminitis
  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Change in attitude/lethargy
  • Delayed haircoat shedding
  • Increased areas of hairiness
  • Change in body conformation
  • Regional fat deposits (e.g. neck)
  • Infertility

 Advanced

  • Laminitis
  • Lethargy
  • Generalized hairiness (hypertrichosis/hirsutism)
  • Loss of seasonal haircoat shedding
  • Recurrent infections (e.g. sole abscesses or sinus infections)
  • Neurologic deficits (e.g. blindness)
  • Abnormal sweating (increased or decreased)
  • Absent reproductive cycle / infertility
  • Skeletal muscle atrophy
  • Regional fat deposits
  • Increased drinking and urinating
  • Rounded abdomen

 What should I do if I think my horse/pony has PPID?

You can help a lot by watching for early signs of PPID and contacting Central West Equine on (02) 63654363 if you think your horse needs to be checked.  A simple blood test can help diagnose PPID.  For this test a single blood sample is taken to measure the level of the hormone ACTH which is abnormally high in horses that suffer from PPID   . This test is most sensitive at diagnosing early PPID and is best performed in the autumn.

How do we treat PPID?

We can work with you to help manage your horse’s health. We have considerable experience in diagnosis and treatment of PPID.  When effective treatment and management is started early, horses with PPID can expect to enjoy many healthy, quality years to come.

Pictures of a six month treatment plan – photos courtesy of www.talkaboutlaminitis.com.au/

Cushings 1 Cushings 2 Cushings 3Cushings 4 Cushings 6 Cushings 5