Horse Podcast Ep 158: Ask the Vet – Cushing’s Diesase PPID

We are back with another great ASK the Vet episode where Heather is speaking with  Dr. Julia Montgomery associate professor of large animal clinical sciences from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatchewan Canada. The topic we are reviews is PPID Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID; equine Cushing’s disease). The disease of the again horse that once they have it they have it for the rest of their life.

We discuss, who is at risk, signs, and warnings, and how it is tested for. Like many other diseases that affect horses, there are 3 levels of PPID, mild, moderate, and severe. Join us to learn all about this disease and how you can manage your horse if they get it.

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Ask the Vet – What is PPID or Cushing’s disease

Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID; equine Cushing’s disease) is an endocrine disorder that occurs in over 20% of aged horses, ponies, and donkeys. Most animals are over 15 years old when diagnosed, but PPID can occur in younger horses. It is, rare in horses less than 10 years old. Horses and ponies of any breed may be affected.

PPID – whats is actually happening

The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, plays a key role in regulating the body’s hormones. Many metabolic and reproductive functions, as well as blood pressure and electrolyte balance can be affected. Horses develop enlargement and benign tumors in a section of the pituitary gland known as the pars intermedia. While these tumors do not spread and rarely become large enough to cause neurological disease, they overproduce hormones that create an abnormal metabolic state.

Ask the Vet – What does a horse with PPID look like

The most obvious sign of PPID is a distinct, shaggy hair coat, called hypertrichosis. Some horses can develop this long hair coat over their entire body, while others have localized patches of long hair, or just some longer hairs around the jawlines and lower limbs. These horses also can have delayed shedding in the spring or will not shed out at all. Other common, but less obvious, signs of PPID include increased thirst (polydipsia), increased urination (polyuria), and muscle wasting.

Ask the Vet – How to treat PPID

Pergolide mesylate is a drug that acts on receptors within the pars intermedia to suppress tissue enlargement and tumor growth. The only formulation currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of PPID in horses is Prascend.®

Ask the Vet – What to feed

Pelleted senior feeds are effective for maintaining or gaining weight. If needed, fat supplements can be added to provide extra calories for horses that need to gain weight. For horses with insulin dysregulation, dietary sugar restriction are also needed and can be done by eliminating grain and limiting pasture access, especially during spring and fall when grass sugar content is higher.

Guest today:

Julia Montgomery (Canada)

Information on Julia can be found at Julia Montgomery Published

Don’t forget to check out the resources section in this article!


  • Abnormal Shedding
  • Muscle wasting
  • Loss of top line
  • Challenge to catch in early cases

Thank you for tuning in and happy trails!

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Do you feel that we are missing out on an important topic? Or maybe you have an interesting story to tell? Contact Heather or Ute!


Thanks for listening to our horse podcast: Ask the Vet – Cushing’s disease PPID

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