HOR­MONAL IM­BAL­ANCES

EQUUS - - Longevity -

It’s an un­usual horse over the age of 20 who doesn’t have some de­gree of pi­tu­itary pars in­ter­me­dia dys­func­tion (PPID, also called Cush­ing’s dis­ease). PPID causes the pi­tu­itary gland to pro­duce less dopamine, lead­ing to ex­ces­sive se­cre­tion of the hor­mone cor­ti­sol by the adrenal gland. This leads to a va­ri­ety of phys­i­cal changes, in­clud­ing a thick hair coat, ab­nor­mal sweat­ing and in­creased thirst. Some of th­ese, such as low­ered im­mune func­tion, mus­cle wast­ing and an in­creased risk of lamini­tis, can shorten a horse’s life.

But as with so many other con­di­tions, it’s wise to con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of PPID well be­fore old age sets in. “We think of Cush­ing’s as a dis­ease of older horses, but you need to be on watch for it in a horse’s mid-teens,” says Judd. “Some horses de­velop it at 14 or 15, and the ear­lier you can catch it and con­trol it, the bet­ter. Even if they don’t yet have an ob­vi­ously thick coat, the con­di­tion is tak­ing a toll on the horse, and you don’t want to wait un­til the horse founders to con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity he might have Cush­ing’s.”

Judd starts ask­ing own­ers ques­tions spe­cific to PPID when horses are about

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