Cushing’s Syndrome / Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID)
Equine Cushing's Syndrome
Equine Cushing's Syndrome is a condition we commonly see at Field Equine Vets. A lot of our patients are middle aged or older and these horses are most commonly affected. Up to 30% of aged horses have the condition and this increases as they get older. Most horses in their late 20's or older will have the condition.
What causes it?
The cause of Cushing's Syndrome is overactivity of one part of the pituitary gland. This results in overproduction of metabolic proteins and hormones. Damage to the nerves of the pituitary gland results in the gland enlarging and hence overproduction of the substances produced by it. One of the substances produced is a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)- which is the hormone we measure.
How do we test for it?
To diagnose Cushing's Syndrome definitively we perform a simple blood test to measure the level of adrenocorticotropic hormone. In Cushing's Syndrome the level of this hormone increases above normal reference ranges.
HIRSUTISM ( excessive hair growth )
INCREASED THIRST AND URINATION
Fortunately there is an effective treatment available for the treatment of Cushing's Syndrome. This is a drug called pergolide, available in a licensed form as Prascend. Pergolide reduces the production of ACTH by the pituitary gland. After 2-4 weeks of treatment we repeat the blood test to measure the level of ACTH in order to ensure we are providing the correct dose of pergolide.
The most common side effect of pergolide is a decrease in appetite following initiation of treatment. This is almost always reversible and when it does occur, we normally reduce the dose of pergolide and the appetite returns.
What else can be done?
Managing a horse or pony with Cushing's Syndrome is much more than simply medication with pergolide.
Horses with Cushing's Syndrome need extra attention to their worming and dental care. The effect of Cushing's Syndrome is to reduce the immunity, hence many horses will have greater parasite burdens and are at greater risk of foot abscesses and sinusitis.
Many horses with excessively long coat growth will benefit from regular clipping to prevent them sweating.
Call 01562 701334 to schedule an appointment
New House Farm, Belbroughton Rd, Blakedown DY103JH