Equine PPID Cushing's Disease

Could Your Horse Have Cushing’s Disease?

Equine Cushing’s Disease (PPID)

One of the main reasons we are exploring this topic is because just in the past few weeks we have treated several horses for un-diagnosed Cushing’s Disease.

Equine Cushing’s is properly known as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID).

What this means is that a gland in the horses brain (pituitary gland) is encouraged to work overtime because there is not enough dopamine (a hormone) being produced by the horses body.

This then causes the pituitary gland to produce too much of certain hormones because the body’s natural “off switch” is not working properly.Equine PPID Cushing's Disease

When the levels of these hormones get too great, your horse or pony starts to develop side effects including: weight loss, muscle loss, laminitis and recurring infections.

This was originally considered an “old horse” disease, however horses as young as 5 years can be affected. Statistics these days say that up to 50% of horses over 15 years have PPID, and 70% of horses that suffer from laminitis are shown to be positive for PPID also.

What are the signs that may indicate your horse has PPID?

  • Fat or muscle loss – a general “loss of condition”
  • Laminitis or reoccurring foot abscess’
  • Hypertrichosis – excessive coat growth (often “curly”) – or unable to shed their coat effectively
  • Fat pads – around eyes, neck (crest), back and rump
  • Lethargy – always seeming tired, lacking in energy for some reason
  • Drinking more or urinating more than normal
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Reoccurring infections – of skin, wounds, teeth, etc
  • Parasite problems

Many people associate PPID with the “curly coat” appearance – and often this is one of the last signs to occur in the disease process. What this means is by the stage your horse or pony looks like a classic PPID case, the disease has already progressed into its mature stages.

We recommend testing and treating your horse before it gets to this stage as it is easier to control, so have a good look at your horse or pony and see if any of the above signs may be apparent.

Health Check and Blood Testing

If you notice any of the above signs with your horse or pony we recommend a consultation with your vet.

A health check will be performed to highlight any areas of concern, and then a blood sample can be taken. Often times we take one blood sample at the time of the visit to test your horses ACTH levels. However this can differ case by case and your veterinarian will discuss your best testing options with you.

What happens if my horse is Diagnosed with PPID?

If your horse or pony is tested positive for PPID then they are often prescribed a medication known as Prascend. This medication acts as a synthetic hormone which then aims to reactivate the “off switch” in your horse or pony’s pituitary gland.

This is life-long medication, and so follow up blood tests and health checks need to be performed regularly to ensure your horse or pony is getting the full benefit of the treatment.

Unfortunately there is no cure for PPID, however – the good news is that it can be very well managed with ongoing medication.

Resources and further Reading

Talk About Laminitis

Equine Veterinary Dentist

3 Reasons To Use a Vet for Your Horse’s Dental Care

Why Veterinary Equine Dentals are Different

Let’s say you suspect your horse has a mouth issue. This means you have observed one or more of these behaviours:

  • Dropping food when eating – we call this Quidding”Equine Veterinary Dentist
  • Abnormal eating habits – e.g. opening mouth at strange angles when eating
  • Coughing or choke during or after eating
  • Resisting the bit when ridden
  • Resisting collection, pressure or steering when ridden
  • Head shaking
  • Swelling on the face or cheeks
  • Head shy
  • Nasal discharge

Who Do You Call?

Now you could call an Equine Dentist who is not a Vet but can perform a dental – OR – you could call a Veterinary Equine Dentist who in addition to being able to perform a professional oral exam and dental procedure if needed, can also diagnose any other issues that may be contributing to the problem.

This is why Veterinary Dentals are often “packaged” to include an Equine Health Check.

This is good medicine and the best approach to horse health care. Without being health checked at the same time, underlying causes and developing illnesses can be overlooked leading to further problems down the track.

3 Reasons to Choose an Equine Veterinary Dentist

1 – We use Sedation

Providing effective sedation helps keeps your horse calm and comfortable during the procedure. Your horse should not be subjected to unnecessary pain at any stage of veterinary treatment.  It also allows much better examination of the mouth and teeth.

2 – We include a “Health Check”

This means we can diagnose other conditions of the mouth, head and body that could be affecting your horse. The oral examination includes – incisor alignment, condition of teeth, visualisation of tongue, cheeks and palate and condition of gums.

  • Full examination of: heart, lungs, abdomen, limbs, eyes, feet, skin & coat, etc
  • Discussion on feed, health, concerns, etc
  • Examination at trot and walk – to assess gait and problem areas

We also use a Dental Video Endoscope to thoroughly explore your horse’s entire oral cavity. Images can be viewed and saved on the device for your records.

The float procedure includes – rasping down teeth to allow re-balancing of the mouth and target any problem areas. This is done with either a Power Float, manual tools (hand tools) or both.

3 – We can perform extractions with Pain Relief if necessary

Only registered veterinarians can perform extractions  with supportive pain relief should that be necessary. (Technicians can’t prescribe pain relief)

How often should my Horse have a Dental?

  • Due to the way horse’s teeth erupt and wear throughout their lifetime – we recommend a dental check every 12 months.
  • Some conditions require your horse to have dentals more often such as every 6 or even 3 months.
  • At any time your horse shows signs of oral discomfort.Equine Dental Vet

Dental Package Fees

The cost of our all inclusive Equine Health Check and Dental Package is $200 + Travel (Less than a Consultation + Dental if charged separately)

For 3 or more horses treated at the same property (within our service area) – there is no travel charge.

Dental only: $140 + Travel (If you don’t want a Health Check at the same time)

*Fees do NOT include extractions

*Fees valid as at June 2016.

Package Benefits:

  • Reduced consultation Fee
  • Allows your horse to be registered on our system and become “under our care”. This allows us to service you and your horse better should you need advice or medications between annual visits.
  • As a registered client of the practice, you can access our 24/7 Emergency service.
  • Other preventative treatment or testing can be carried out at the same time e.g. Faecal floats, Equine Cushing Disease etc.
  • Allows us to build a relationship with you and your horse in a non – emergency situation.