EMS or PPID?
Equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction is another endocrine disease, previously known as Cushing’s disease. Like EMS, PPID can lead to laminitis. The disease also raises insulin levels, which can make equine metabolic syndrome worse.
“PPID is seen in middle-aged horses as well as the aged horse,” says Dr. Nicholas Frank. “Now we recognize horses with EMS often develop PPID. So it’s a question of finding out if there is one endocrine disorder or two endocrine disorders in the same horse. Detecting the PPID is important because we can treat that and take that factor back out of the picture.”
Dr. Frank recommends closely watching any horse or pony over the age of 10 for signs of PPID, whether or not he is predisposed to EMS. These are:
■ Weight loss that can’t be explained by a change in diet or exercise. PPID causes the horse to burn more calories and become harder to keep weight on.
■ Loss of topline. PPID causes muscle wasting that often begins with muscles along the back decreasing in mass.
■ Any sort of hair-coat change, however subtle. Often this is the horse shedding out more slowly than others in the barn or shedding out in patches.
Horses with EMS can often develop PPID, another endocrine disease previously known as Cushing’s disease. Characterized by a loss of topline and muscle mass, as well as coat changes and weight loss, PPID often affects older equines.