New survey seeks to better understand management of Equine Cushing’s disease

equine cushing's disease
Photo: Olga Yastremska 123RF

University of Melbourne researchers are undertaking a survey of horse owners to better understand their management of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) also known as Equine Cushing’s disease.

PPID is a common condition in older horses and ponies and is linked to a range of problems including laminitis (a foot problem causing severe lameness), weight loss and a long curly hair coat, plus various other signs.

The survey forms part of a broader, major international project to improve the understanding and knowledge of the fundamental causes of the condition, in order to improve early diagnosis, treatment, husbandry and nutritional management.

The short online survey is designed for horse owners, to better understand how they manage horses or ponies with PPID, and what the important factors are for them including the ability to feed separately and cost of medications.

“We need to get a broader sense of what is working for horse owners so that we can improve health outcomes for these animals both in terms of the early recognition of PPID signs and in the way we determine the most appropriate treatment, management and nutrition,” Melbourne Veterinary School survey lead, Dr Nicolas Galinelli said.

“PPID affects approximately 20 per cent of horses and is slightly more common in ponies. Sometimes it is treated with specific drugs that target the excessive production of hormones from the pituitary gland, whilst other owners may choose to only treat the clinical signs of the disease such as laminitis. 

“Adapting the diet can also be helpful. We want to understand how owners make treatment decisions and which decisions are having the best outcomes.”

Veterinary pharmacology expert, Professor Simon Bailey added that the survey will ask owners about what factors are important for them in treating PPID, including the cost and side effects of medications and the ability for horses to be fed separately. 

“We encourage owners to get in touch once our results have been finalised and published. We are keen to help share this information with the equine community and thank them for their support,” Professor Bailey said.

This article was sourced from the News page on the University of Melbourne (Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences) website.


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