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Support Skin, Hooves in Horses with Cushing'sBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · August 22, 2017

Horses with Cushing’s disease (pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, PPID) frequently have abnormalities associated with their integumentary system. In addition to stereotypical changes in hair coat, such as overgrowth or hirsutism, and poor hoof quality and laminitis, many horses with PPID have an increased risk of developing skin infections.

Because of the abnormal hormone levels circulating in a PPID-affected horse’s body, most notably the stress hormone cortisol, the overall health of the skin as well as the immune system’s ability fight off infection are compromised.

Cushingoid horses can develop a variety of skin conditions, including infections. As recently reported*, one Fjord gelding diagnosed with PPID developed a mycetoma caused by the bacterium Aspergillus terreus. The mycetoma presented as a chronic, spreading growth on the face of the Fjord with draining tracts and granular discharge.

Once PPID was diagnosed and pergolide treatment initiated, the mass was successfully treated medically via the oral administration of potassium iodide, avoiding the need for surgical excision.

“To help horses with PPID maintain healthy skin, coat, and hooves, offer Bio•Bloom PS, a nutritional supplement containing key nutrients such as biotin, methionine, iodine, and chelated zinc,” recommended Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., an advisor for Kentucky Equine Research (KER). “Biotin supplementation will not prevent the effects of Cushing’s disease, but it will support integumentary structures as changes occur.”

Be sure to have your horse examined by a veterinarian to confirm a diagnosis of PPID as several medical conditions can appear similar but are treated differently (compare Cushing’s disease with insulin dysregulation or equine metabolic syndrome). KER nutrition advisors can help formulate an appropriate diet for horses with PPID, insulin dysregulation, and equine metabolic syndrome. Click here to begin.

Australian horse owners should look for Bio•Bloom.

*Randleff-Rasmussen, P.K., M. Mosca, F. Knoerr, et al. Successful medical treatment of an Aspergillus terreus mycetoma of the nostril/lip in a 16-year-old Fjord pony gelding with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. Veterinary Dermatology. In press.