Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: Can particular region where a horse lives have an impact on potential Cushing’s disease dangers?
By Catherine Whitehouse, M.S.
The season of the year, animal age, stress, geographical location and even time of day affect hormone levels in a horse’s bloodstream. We know that equine Cushing’s disease, also called PPID or pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, alters the production and secretion of multiple hormones, including ACTH or adrenocorticotropic hormone.
Changes in these hormones result in the classic signs of Cushing’s disease: hypertrichosis or abnormal shedding, chronic laminitis, excessive sweating and opportunistic infections, such as bacterial skin infections.
While that’s what happens to horses in the Northern Hemisphere, the results may not be the same in other areas of the world. As an example, few studies have been published regarding equine Cushing’s disease in Australia despite the country’s high population of horses.
Successfully managing PPID horses relies heavily on an early diagnosis and rapid institution of both medication, pergolide, and dietary changes. Therefore, knowing whether dysfunction of the pars intermedia portion of the pituitary gland is the same in Australia as North America and Europe is very important.
According to a recent study, PPID in certain geographic regions, such as Australia, may not present as classically described. As a result, milder PPID cases could be easily missed.
After testing 274 horses and ponies for PPID at eight veterinary facilities throughout Australia, the following data regarding PPID in the Southern Hemisphere were reported:
1. Common clinical signs included hypertrichosis, lameness, tachypnea (increased respiratory rate), muscle loss, lethargy, abnormal fat distribution, weight loss, pendulous abdomen, hyperhidrosis or anhidrosis, and excessive drinking and urination.
2. Clinical presentation of PPID changes with latitude and climate.
3. Maintaining a higher body condition score was associated with increased survival, as was being a pony.
4. Administering pergolide was also associated with survival.
5. Laminitis was diagnosed in 89.9% of cases, but a diagnosis of laminitis was not associated with survival.
The presentation of PPID appears to vary based on geography. This suggests that the management of affected horses, particularly in reference to diet, may also need to be altered depending on where the horse resides.
Since PPID negatively impacts every horse’s body, including the integumentary (skin, hair, hooves) and musculoskeletal systems, fully supporting these systems will help maintain quality of life for these animals. While researchers garner more information regarding the specific nutritional needs of PPID horses in various global regions, consider your horse’s current needs.
Catherine Whitehouse is a Kentucky Equine Research nutrition advisor located in Versailles, Ky.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine).
Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.
Click here to read Part 1 of the March 15, 2019 installment: Can the fact that one of my horses is overweight lead to laminitis concerns?