Cushing's disease (formally known as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, or PPID) is known to take a toll on a horse's health if not managed properly. The heightened levels of cortisol in a Cushing's affected horse can cause uncontrolled coat growth, recurrent laminitis, lethargy, fatty deposits, and increased thirst, among other things. Research shows that Cushing's may also have an adverse effect on the eyes.
With their heightened levels of cortisol throughout their bodies, horses with Cushing's produce tears with higher levels of cortisol. The presence of this corticosteroid in the tears will potentially prevent the healing of ulcers and wounds to the eye, creating complications that will impede the healing of such injuries.
The most common medication used to treat Cushing's in horses is pergolide, but according to a recent study, horses diagnosed with Cushing's and on pergolide still demonstrated the same increased levels of cortisol in their tears as compared to horses of comparable age who do not have Cushing's.
“Ways to prevent the development of PPID remain conservative at best, leaving owners reliant on treatment. Even though pergolide mesylate is available in an equine formulation and reportedly serves as an effective treatment for horses and ponies diagnosed with PPID, don't forget about the importance of diet in managing equine Cushing's disease,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).
Read more at EquiNews.
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