Providing comfort to horses with PPID or Cushing’s Syndrome & Laminitis
Canadian Farrier and FormaHoof Expert Aletia Reilingh is based in Borken, Germany, and works together with several local vets and clinics to support the treatment of a wide range of hoof-related diseases, injuries, and other common problems with FormaHoof.
Aletia recently worked with the Equine Clinic of Dr. Ulrich Mengeler on several cases, one of which involved a 20 year old retired Welsh Section A Pony, called Mounty, who is suffering from chronic laminitis in combination with PPID.
When Mounty was first presented at the clinic, x-rays were taken and the pony’s owner, veterinarian, and FCA Aletia Reilingh discussed the option to use FormaHoof as a supportive treatment. All three agreed that FormaHoof was a beneficial treatment option, which would provide Mounty with enhanced comfort and a better quality of life to enjoy his retirement.
Aletia shares the details of this case, outlines Mounty’s treatment for laminitis, his progress and answers some essential questions on laminitis in horses, equine Cushing’s disease and PPID.
Firstly, the care team reviewed the Mounty’s x-rays before progressing with his treatment:
“The x-rays showed a change in the coffin bone often associated with laminitis. We were able to clearly see that the sole at the point of the coffin bone was very thin, which was causing significant discomfort to the pony.”
FormaHoof was first applied on July 28th 2021.
After 6 weeks a new set of FormaHoof was applied and it was clear that the Mounty had experienced significant changes in his hooves, behavior and the degree of lameness between the application cycles.
Mounty was significantly sounder and was able to move quite comfortably on a variety of surfaces. This enabled him to participate in horsemanship learning with the family’s children, going for walks and enjoying daily grooming, which he loves!
How many FormaHoof cycles are expected to be required before the pony can return to barefoot?
“It looks like we will need two more cycles before he can return to barefoot, as his feet grow very slowly.”
What additional treatments did the pony receive?
“Meds, clipping etc. He is on medication specifically for the management of his Cushing’s.”
Is Cushing’s disease in horses related to laminitis or founder?
Not directly, but various studies have shown that up to 50% of horses with Cushing’s are affected by laminitis.
Laminitis has been associated with abnormal insulin levels and causes extreme painful inflammation in horses’ hooves.
Laminitis is considered to be both an early sign and an advanced sign of PPID.
Why is FormaHoof a good solution to support horses and ponies’ PPID treatment?
As mentioned above, horses and ponies can be affected by a combination of PPID and laminitis – both can be a sign for each other.
FormaHoof is uniquely suited to treating laminitis as it encapsulates the damaged hoof, providing instant protection and support for the sensitive internal structures.
FormaHoof helps support relief and recovery from laminitis associated with PPID in the following ways:
Due to decreased immunity, horses and ponies with PPID can sometimes be more susceptible to hoof infections and abscesses, which can be extremely painful. FormaHoof helps to promote a clean, dry environment, helping to keep out harmful bacteria that can lead to abscesses and working as a preventive measure for several hoof pathologies.
More Facts about PPID AKA Cushing’s syndrome/disease
What is Cushing’s Syndrome?
Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) or equine Cushing’s syndrome or disease is an endocrine or ‘hormonal’ disorder that occurs in over 20% of aged horses, ponies, and donkeys.
It’s a complex condition associated with abnormal function of the pituitary gland which becomes over active and often enlarged, producing produces large amounts of several hormones including adrenocorticotropin hormone or ‘ACTH’.
Which horses are likely to get PPID?
Whilst senior horses are more likely to develop PPID and it is rare in horses less than 10 years old, horses and ponies of any breed or age group may be affected. However, breeds that struggle with obesity and high insulin concentrations are more likely to develop equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), which can predispose them to PPID.
What are the early signs of equine Cushing's syndrome?
- Decreased athletic performance
- Change in behaviour
- Abnormal fat depots (patch development)
- Loss of topline
What are the advanced symptoms of Cushing's disease in horses?
- Blindness and other neurological deficits
- Abnormal sweating
- Recurrent infections
- Abnormal hair coat (long and curly), including a lack of seasonal shedding
- Skeletal muscle atrophy
- Rounded abdomen
- Excessive urination and thirst
How do I know if my horse has Cushing’s disease?
It is highly advisable to contact your vet if you notice any of the above signs of PPID.
Your vet will carry out a blood test, which can often be as simple as testing for resting levels of ACTH. In many countries, horses can qualify for free PPID testing (e.g. UK, Canada).
Is Cushing's disease in horses curable?
Whilst there is no cure for PPID, by providing the right nutrition, care and support, alongside appropriate veterinary treatment, you can help mitigate its effects and keep your horse or pony sound, happy and healthy for many years to come.
What are the treatments for Cushing’s disease in horses?
Cushing’s or PPID is a life-long, degenerative condition, but can be managed with a daily dose of medication (tablet or paste form). Medication should be dosed and frequently controlled by a veterinarian.
Treatment should also include frequent blood checks to keep an eye on ACTH levels and keeping effective routines for hoof trimming, dental checks and worming is another important part of the overall treatment.
Horses and ponies with abnormal coat growth will also benefit from a regular clip to increase comfort levels.
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