Caring for a horse or pony with PPID

Early identification of horses and ponies with PPID helps to arrest the disease early in its course. Although there is no “cure” for the problem, appropriate medical treatment and good routine healthcare can help keep your horse healthy and fit.

Treatment Success – Watch Smokey’s story

Medical treatment

Although a number of different medicines and supplements have been assessed as treatments for Equine PPID, only one has so far demonstrated sufficient treatment benefit and safety to the medical authorities to become a licensed treatment.

Management changes for horses with PPID

Many horses and ponies with PPID are older than 15 years, and so may have other conditions associated with middle age, as well as symptoms directly associated with the disease. With this in a mind, a good programme of routine preventative health care can be a great help in managing a horse with PPID. This should include:

  • Regular worming, dentistry, and routine foot care (especially for laminitics)
  • A high quality, balanced, diet. Ask your vet for advice.

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General care advice for horses with Cushing’s disease

Caring for a horse or pony with EMS

Treatment Success – Watch Jimmy’s story

  • Where laminitis is not a limiting factor, daily exercise aids weight loss and improves insulin sensitivity. Exercise intensity does not have to be high, but aim to build up to regular exercise of 30 minutes or more daily, once the hooves are stable if your horse or pony is recovering from an episode of laminitis.
  • Obtaining and maintaining your horse or pony’s correct body weight is vitally important. Ask your vet to show you how to use a weight tape correctly, and how to assess body condition score and cresty neck score – this will help you to monitor progress.
  • Dietary management should reduce both energy intake and non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) but changes to your horse or pony’s diet slowly (over the course of at least 2 weeks).
  • Restriction of grazing using a muzzle or starvation paddock can reduce grass intake while still maintaining exercise obtained during turnout. Simply limiting duration of turnout is unlikely to be successful as horses and ponies are able to consume a large portion of their daily grass intake in the first 2 – 3 hours of grazing.
  • Soaking hay can be a very useful way of reducing the sugar and therefore the calorie content. The length of time you need to soak hay for varies considerably between different hays, so it may be worth having a forage analysis done to find out the energy content of your hay. Soaking time would normally be between 1 – 12 hours, depending on the type and quality of your hay. When giving soaked hay, it is also advisable to feed a broad spectrum multivitamin/mineral and amino-acid supplement (ask your vet for advice).
  • Feeding hay in haylage nets or inside two hay nets (“double netting”) can help slow down your horse or pony to prolong feeding time.
  • Regular check-ups from your vet will help monitor the response to management changes and any other treatment, and allow assessment of your horse or pony’s insulin levels.

Talk About Laminitis

Talk About Laminitis is a national disease awareness initiative provided by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, to improve awareness and understanding of the underlying endocrine causes of laminitis.


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