Understanding Cushing’s Syndrome In Equines

Cushing Equines In horses -BudgetPetWorld

Cushing’s syndrome is the disorder of the pituitary gland in horses. The condition emerges due to the development of a benign tumor in the pars intermedia region of the pituitary gland. As the tumor grows it produces adrenocorticotropin(ACTH) hormone which stimulates the adrenal gland. As a response, the adrenal gland then produces excessive levels of cortisol which sends negative signals to the body. Although this disease usually affects the old horses, it can even occur in ponies and equines above 7 years of age.

Symptoms Of Cushing’s Syndrome 

A horse suffering from Cushing’s Syndrome exhibits progressive symptoms that include:

  • No hair shed in summers
  • Long and shaggy coat
  • Weight Loss
  • Ulcers in mouth
  • Excess Body Fat
  • Insulin resistance
  • Lethargy
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weakened immunity

What Excess Cortisol Does To The Equine’s Body?

Cortisol is normally responsible for maintaining the blood pressure, appetite, muscle tone, body temperature and stress. Thus, the production of cortisol in excess affects the horse adversely. As the quantity of cortisol increases in the body, all of these functions are also affected negatively. This leads to poor health and immunity in horses.


There are several tests that are conducted to diagnose Cushing’s disease in horses. These may include:

  • Hyperglycemia test
  • Urinalysis
  • Hormonal tests
  • Blood Tests

All of these tests are carried out to check the imbalance of hormones, blood sugar levels and ketone levels in urine.


The most common treatment of Cushing’s disease in horses is hormonal replacement therapy. Surgery of the pituitary gland is impossible in horses due to inaccessibility. Therefore, only medicines can be used to cure the disease. Other than that, nutritional management is important. Horses are prone to developing nutrition-related disorders hence, it is important to maintain a high-quality diet. Avoid food that has high starch and sugar content like cereal grains. For instance, Lucerne hay is great for horses as it has low starch and sugar levels. Moreover, you must always maintain a good overall health of the horse. Diseases compromise the immune system of the horse thereby increasing the chances of development of tumors.  Therefore, appropriate preventives and wormers must be provided to reduce the risk.

A healthy horse will have better immunity thus will live longer. His body would be strong enough to combat the imbalances in the system. So, make every possible effort so he stays hale and hearty.

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