Hormones gone haywire

By Connie Orcutt • Published: December 1st, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves

One of the most common diseases in horses over 15 years of age is equine Cushing’s disease. Tumors in the brain’s pituitary gland secrete hormones abnormally and compress neighboring structures, causing a whole host of signs.

Affected horses often grow long hair coats throughout the year or sweat more. Some become ravenous or noticeably drink and urinate more. Immunosuppression is common, and horses may be lethargic or develop laminitis (lamb-ih-NIGHT-us). Other horses may have bulging eyes or even go blind. More subtle signs can include muscle atrophy or infertility.

The incidence of equine Cushing’s disease drastically increases after a horse is 30 years old. Contact your veterinarian if you have concerns. Although treatment and supportive care are rarely curative, they can provide the comfort your aging equine buddy deserves.