Nine things you didn’t know about equine
Cushing’s disease but should.
BY ANNA O’BRIEN, DVM
Cushing’s disease is a complex and yet relatively common condition in horses. While it does require medical inter- vention, this disease is not a death sentence, and horses with Cushing’s disease can continue leading a happy, productive life long after diagnosis. Here are some details about this confusing dis- ease to set the record straight.
1. It’s all in a name.
Long recognized in veterinary medicine but only relatively recently well understood, the name for this condition has evolved over the decades. The most accurate,
current name for the condition is pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, or PPID.
Commonly, though, it’s still referred to as equine Cushing’s disease, which
is much easier to say. The fancy medical jargon helps to distinguish this equine
condition from the canine and human versions of Cushing’s disease, which are
unique to their own respective species in various ways.
2. Age is a factor but not the factor.
Statistics vary, but it’s often noted that one in 10 horses over the age of 10 has
Cushing’s disease, and this statistic increases to roughly one out of three horses in
their 20s. While it is true that the older the horse, the greater risk of developing
this disease, it doesn’t mean younger horses are exempt. In fact, horses as young
as 5 have been diagnosed.