How Can I Keep My Senior Horse With PPID Cool?

An owner seeks advice on managing a senior horse with Cushing’s disease during a heat wave.
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Horses with PPID tend to have decreased or delayed shedding, so frequent body clipping can be beneficial. | Photo: iStock

Q. It’s been very hot and humid in my area lately. Are there any special considerations that I need to make for my 25-year-old gelding, who has PPID (pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, or equine Cushing’s disease), to ensure he stays healthy throughout this heat wave?

—Kathryn, via e-mail

A. I would say the answer to this is twofold: good medical management and quality husbandry.

Your horse should be on the proper therapeutic dose of pergolide (brand name Prascend). Dosing should be according to an amount where you see an improvement in symptoms and endocrine testing.

As for the care of your horse during this stressful time of heat, keeping him cool and hydrated are the most important factors. Horses with PPID tend to have decreased or delayed shedding, so frequent body clipping—possibly as often as every two to four weeks during the summer months—can be beneficial.

Also, keeping your horse stabled in a well-ventilated barn with fans and/or fan/misters is important, as anhidrosis (inability to sweat) or excessive sweating can also be signs of PPID.

I believe the most important consideration for your horse is access to free choice water. With this disease they tend to drink more water than a normal horse, and the added heat will increase the urge to drink.

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Jordan Lewis, DVM, is a veterinarian at Palm Beach Equine Clinic, in Wellington, Florida. She is a 2004 graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and completed her internship in equine medicine and surgery at the Equine Medical Center in Ocala. Growing up in South Florida, she began her relationship with horses as a young teenager and competed on the Arabian circuit. Her hobbies include riding her horse and running and playing with her two dogs.

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