‘A few years ago PPID or Equine Cushing’s Disease was considered a rare hormonal disease in horses. Now it is thought to affect over 20% of horses over the age of 15’
What is Cushings?
Also known as PPID (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction) is a progressive disease that is most commonly found in older horses. It is most common in ponies and native types, but not exclusive to any breed or type.
What are the Symptoms?
- weight loss
- a thick, curly coat which doesn’t always shed properly, or sheds late in the season
- abnormal fatty deposits
- muscle wastage
- a ‘pot belly’ look
What are the causes?
In a horse with Cushings, the Pituitary Gland, which regulates the hormones within the body doesn’t recognise the hormonal signals which indicate it to stop and therefore the body continues to produce ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone). This in turn increases the production of cortisol, which affects the horse’s insulin production and can lead to insulin resistance. In this case the vet may prescribe a drug called Pergolide which is designed to reduce the overproduction or Cortisol.
What can we do to manage Cushings?
Cushings has no cure, but can be managed with careful dietary support and consideration, careful consideration for the following is important
- Avoid feeds which are high in Sugar and Starch. Horses and ponies with Cushings have difficulty with the levels of glucose and insulin in their body, and providing them feeds which are high in sugar will increase the risk of laminitis.
- Avoid large meals and instead feed smaller and often. This will ensure there are not peaks and troughs in their glucose and insulin levels.
- Look for herbs which can help! Chaste Tree Berry (included in our Senior Balancer) is said to have a positive effect on the pituitary gland and can be beneficial to horses and ponies with Cushings.
- Anti-Oxidants – Lots of feeds are naturally high in Anti-Oxidant Vitamins and Minerals. To help immune function and avoid things such as hoof abscess, worm infestation, choose a feed that is high in Vitamin E and Selenium.
- Assess Lifestyle The sugar in grass levels can fluctuate through the year and being aware of when the spikes occur is vital. Lush spring grass and frost are particularly crucial, and allowing turnout in a starvation paddock with hay. An alternative is to strip graze or look into track systems where horses are encouraged to move more and eat more naturally in a herd like environment.
Our Super Concentrated Senior Balancer contains a full vitamin and mineral supplement, hoof, respiratory and coat supplement as well as CushinCombo, which is ideal to feed to horses who suffer with PPID as it contains Chaste Tree Berry, which is said to naturally help the body to balance the glucose and insulin levels in the blood.