Ask the Vet
Ask the Vet
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Michael Dym
Back to results
Enter Your Information All fields are required

While efforts are made to answer all questions as quickly as possible, if an immediate answer is required or if your pet is in need of urgent or emergency care, contact your pet's veterinarian immediately.

*Please note: Questions submitted and the answers will appear on our website as a benefit to all pet owners. Please make sure not to include any personal information in the box where you enter your question.

Ask the Vet
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Michael Dym
Thank you! Your question has been submitted.

You will receive an answer from Dr. Dym and our vet/tech team as soon as possible, usually the same day.

All answers are provided for informational or educational purposes only, and are intended to be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise and professional judgment of your pet's veterinarian.

It may be necessary to consult your pet's veterinarian regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your pet's symptoms or medical condition.

Close
Ask the Vet
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Michael Dym
Oops! Your question has not been submitted.

An error has occurred, please reload the page and try again.

Close
Ask the Vet
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Michael Dym
Got questions? Ask Dr. Dym & our Vet Team:

While efforts are made to answer all questions as quickly as possible, if an immediate answer is required or if your pet is in need of urgent or emergency care, contact your pet's veterinarian immediately.

Do these answer your question?
Showing of | See All
Have another question, or can’t find your answer?
Submit your question
We're Sorry!

There is no answer related to your question

Can’t find your answer?
Submit your question
Category

Signs of Cushing's Disease in Horses

Cushing’s disease is very common in older horses, affecting as many as 21% of those over 15. Starting at about 9 years of age you may want to be on the lookout for common symptoms to ensure that your horse gets an early diagnosis. Though the disease is incurable, the symptoms can be managed so your horse can enjoy many more healthy years of riding.

What Are The Signs Of Cushing’s Disease In Horses?
Equine Cushing’s Disease, also known as pars intermedia dysfunction (PID), is caused by a tumor that develops on the pituitary gland that causes the body to secrete excessive amounts of hormones, especially cortisol.
One of the most characteristic signs of Cushing’s disease is a long, curly coat. Shedding of their winter coat may be delayed or may not happen at all, leaving them with a coat that’s long and shaggy. However, not all horses with Cushing’s Disease will have a long coat.
Weight loss and a loss of muscle tone are common in horses with Cushing’s Disease. Loss of back muscle can result in a pot-bellied or swayback appearance.
It’s common to see fatty deposits in unusual areas such as the base of the tail and crest of the neck.
Excessive water drinking and resulting increased urination are also common symptoms.
Cushing’s disease can also affect your horse’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infection.
Increased susceptibility to laminitis is another common sign of Cushing’s as the condition is linked to insulin resistance.

What’s The Best Time To Test For Cushing’s Disease In Horses?
For horses with all classic signs of Cushing’s Disease (long, curly coat, increased thirst, increased urination), blood tests may not be necessary for your veterinarian to form a diagnosis.
But for horses with less obvious signs it can be tricky to diagnose.
Horses with Cushing’s disease tend to have elevated blood levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). One way for vets to test for it is to check ACTH levels, but it’s actually not uncommon for horses without Cushing’s to produce more ACTH from late summer to fall. So, you may want to avoid testing from August to October to lower the chances of receiving a false positive result.
If your veterinarian does not recommend ACTH testing based on the time of year it’s still a good idea to do bloodwork and insulin testing to check-in on your horse’s overall health. This is a good way to rule out other underlying causes and to monitor insulin resistance so you can take steps to prevent laminitis.