Why it’s important to book regular 6 monthly veterinary examinations for your Cushing’s horse

Once your horse is stable on treatment and their Equine Cushing’s disease is under control, it is recommended that they are re-examined by their veterinary surgeon every 6 months. This is to ensure that any signs that the disease is not under control are identified promptly, and the treatment and management strategies adjusted accordingly.

Equine Cushing’s disease is a progressive condition that will continue even when horses and ponies are treated appropriately. By regularly discussing ongoing treatment with your veterinary surgeon you will be able to tweak their treatment and management regime to minimise the risk of recurrence of symptoms such as laminitis and infections.

cushings

Your vet will examine your horse to look for signs of Equine Cushing’s disease as well as any other potential health issues, and will often advise a blood test to check the levels of the hormone ACTH in your horse’s bloodstream.

You can join the community of horse owners managing this condition in their horses and ponies by registering on www.careaboutcushings.co.uk where we provide free* annual monitoring tests for horses on treatment for PPID.

The ACTH levels in healthy horses will fluctuate with the seasons: ACTH levels are naturally higher in the Autumn months of July to November and horses with this condition have an exaggerated seasonal variation in their ACTH levels at this time, resulting in exceptionally high ACTH levels compared to healthy horses. For this reason it is advised that one monitoring blood test is taking in Autumn, and one in the non-Autumn months so that your vet can establish the ‘normal’ range of test results for your horse.

An ACTH test result will always need to be interpreted in line with your vet’s clinical assessment of your horse: this is not a test that provides a cut and dried diagnosis. However, test results above the grey zone in the graph below are usually positive, results below the grey zone are usually negative, and results in the grey zone need to be interpreted by your veterinary surgeon on a case by case basis.

cushings graph

If your horse has any symptoms of Cushing’s, or develops any symptoms in the future, these regular blood tests will be crucial in establishing whether it is the Cushing’s that has caused the symptoms, or whether, for multi-factorial conditions such as laminitis, it is something else that has tipped the balance.

It is very useful to track your horse’s health between vet visits by making a note of weight, body fat score, feeding/behaviour changes and any symptoms of ill health. You can use the online diary on www.careaboutcushings.co.uk to do this, and to upload regular photos of your horse.

*free basal ACTH laboratory fees only from. Visit, blood sampling and interpretation fees may be applied by your veterinary practice.