Pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim is urging veterinary surgeons in the U.K. to test for Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), also known as Cushing’s disease, routinely at the annual health check or vaccination visit for horses older than 15.

The recommendation follows the analysis of data collected as part of the company's “Talk About Laminitis” disease awareness initiative, which has seen more than 47,000 horses tested for PPID since it was launched in 2012.

The data revealed that, regardless of presenting clinical signs, a horse between the ages of 15-20 is three times more likely to have PPID compared with a horse younger than 10, and this risk increases with age. For example, a horse of 20-25 is six times more likely to have PPID compared to a horse under 10 and a horse that is 25-30 is 10 times more likely to have PPID.

Boehringer says that despite the high prevalence of PPID in the older horse population, the clinical signs of the disease are insidious in onset and owners may simply associate them with the ageing process.

One study demonstrated that in a single population of horses older than 15 only 1.6% of owners reported signs of PPID. However, when the same group of horses was examined by a veterinary surgeon, 21% were found to have signs of the disease.

“It is often difficult for owners to spot the signs of PPID as they frequently associate them with the ageing process,” says Jo Ireland, veterinary surgeon at the University of Liverpool. “However, PPID is now the fifth most commonly diagnosed disease in horses in the UK. We are therefore encouraging veterinary surgeons to routinely test horses over 15 years of age or those that are displaying signs of PPID with an ACTH test.”

The “Talk About Laminitis” disease awareness initiative runs from June until the end of October and aims to raise awareness of the underlying hormonal causes of laminitis — PPID and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS).

As part of the scheme, the laboratory fees for the blood test, which detects PPID (the basal ACTH test), are free.

“Any initiative that decreases the incidence of laminitis developing in an older equine is invaluable,” says Nicky Jarvis, senior veterinary surgeon and Redwings’ head of veterinary and care. “Laminitis is an extremely distressing condition for both the horse and the owner and the long-term consequences can be devastating. Knowing the underlying cause is a huge help in tackling the disease and we would encourage anyone to take advantage of this offer and get their veteran checked out.”

For further information about “Talk About Laminitis,” visit or contact your local Boehringer Ingelheim account manager.