New survey seeks to better understand management of Equine Cushing’s disease in horses

A brown pony with ragged hair on a leash in a field with three other ponies in the background

University of Melbourne researchers are undertaking a survey of horse owners to better understand their management of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) also known as Equine Cushing’s disease.

PPID is a common condition in older horses and ponies and is linked to a range of problems including laminitis (a foot problem causing severe lameness), weight loss and a long curly hair coat, plus various other signs.

The survey forms part of a broader, major international project to improve the understanding and knowledge of the fundamental causes of the condition, in order to improve early diagnosis, treatment, husbandry and nutritional management.

The short online survey is designed for horse owners, to better understand how they manage horses or ponies with PPID, and what the important factors are for them including: the ability to feed separately and cost of medications.

Melbourne Veterinary School survey lead, Dr Nicolas Galinelli said that it was important to gain a better understanding of current management practices when it comes to PPID. “We need to get a broader sense of what is working for horse owners so that we can improve health outcomes for these animals both in terms of the early recognition of PPID signs and in the way we determine the most appropriate treatment, management and nutrition.”

Pony in front of a cottage with long curly black hair

“PPID affects approximately 20 per cent of horses and is slightly more common in ponies. Sometimes it is treated with specific drugs that target the excessive production of hormones from the pituitary gland, whilst other owners may choose to only treat the clinical signs of the disease such as laminitis. Adapting the diet can also be helpful. We want to understand how owners make treatment decisions and which decisions are having the best outcomes,” Dr Galinelli said.

Veterinary Pharmacology expert, Professor Simon Bailey added that the survey will ask owners about what factors are important for them in treating PPID, including the cost and side-effects of medications and the ability for horses to be fed separately. “We encourage owners to get in touch once our results have been finalised and published. We are keen to help share this information with the equine community and thank them for their support,” Professor Bailey said.

The research is supported by the Australian Research Council, and being undertaken by the Melbourne Veterinary School and Queensland University of Technology with industry partners including WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute (UK), Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany) and The Liphook Equine Hospital (UK).

The results from this anonymous survey will provide valuable information and contribute to improved targeted education of the horse owning public.

Take the survey

Or copy the link below and paste into your browser:
https://melbourneuni.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0GPNcsoVqyB6lo2

Media enquiries: Claudia Hooper | hooper.c@unimelb.edu.au

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