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Cushings disease in horses

Ponies and horses are living longer due to an improved quality of life and advances in medical care and dentistry but they are susceptible to old-age conditions such as Cushings disease. Cushings (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Disease (PPID)) is caused by the loss of a neurotransmitter - dopamine - in the brain, which has an inhibiting function on part of the pituitary gland. This leads to enlargement of the pars intermedia in the pituitary and abnormal amounts of hormones being secreted.


  • Abnormal hair growth - some ponies have no coat changes
  • Increased drinking & urination
  • Susceptibility to infection
  • Depression & poor performance
  • Pot-belly & bulging above the eyes
  • Laminitis, chronic & recurrent
  • Diabetes


Cushings disease in horses leads to abnormal hair growth



Cushing's disease can be accurately diagnosed by a blood test. Boehringer is offering a free blood test until the end of June 2013 (certain conditions apply). See www.talkaboutlaminitis.co.uk for details or phone the equine office for details.

Current thinking and evidence suggests that 90% of laminitis may occur as a result of an underlying hormonal condition such as Cushing's disease (PPID) or Equine Metabolic Syndrome. Horses and ponies with Cushing's commonly suffer from laminitis in the Autumn as well as the spring.

Cushing's disease is not just a disease of old horses, research has revealed that one third of middle aged horses (between the ages of 10 and 15 years old) tested positive for the disease, where laminitis was the most common sign, not the 'classic' signs of Cushing's such as a curly coat.

If your horse tests positive for PPID, the disease can be treated and managed appropriately, by our Equine Team, to help prevent further painful episodes of Laminitis. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical if the crippling changes seen in the feet caused by laminitis are to be avoided.

There is an effective treatment, Prascend, which for most ponies costs £1 - £1.50 per day.

See our laminitis page and www.talkaboutlaminitis.co.uk for more details.

Animed Veterinary Group is part of CVS (UK) Limited, a company which owns over 300 veterinary practices in the UK. Company Registration Number 03777473. Registered Office CVS House, Owen Road, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4ER