Franklin Vets Blog

Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID)

April 23, 2018

Previously known as Equine Cushing’s Disease, PPID is a common hormonal dysfunction in horses. It can affect as many as 1 in 5 horses and ponies over the age of 15 but can also be seen in younger horses.

In horses affected by PPID, the pituitary gland in the brain produces an excess of hormones, which can cause imbalances in a number of your horses’ normal bodily functions. This can cause a whole range of problems that vary in severity according to how far the disease has progressed.pony with PPID

The most obvious signs of late-stage PPID include:

  • Long, slow shedding hair coat
  • Altered body shape (e.g. “pot-bellied appearance”)
  • Muscle wasting (loss of muscle)
  • Unusual areas of fat deposits
  • Laminitis.

Other signs to look out for are:

  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Excessive sweating
  • Change in attitude/lethargy
  • Infertility
  • Recurrent infections (e.g. abscesses, sinusitis)
  • Increased drinking and urination.

A simple blood test can diagnose for PPID. The test is most sensitive at diagnosing if performed in the autumn. If you already know your horse has PPID, it is especially important to keep a close watch on them through the autumn months because this is when they will be most prone to laminitis.

There is no cure for PPID but it can be effectively managed with the use of medication and careful horse maintenance such as weight management and clipping. When effective treatment and management is started early, horses with PPID can expect many more healthy quality years to come.