Over the past five years, vet Stephen Ashdown has written many articles, spoken on equine matters and contributed widely to horse magazines.

Here he reproduces in the form of questions and answers about 100 topics, all of them common problems which afflict horses.

To access Topics click on Vet Advice Menu.

Cushing's Disease
Q. My mare has been diagnosed with Cushing's Disease. What is this and what's the best way to manage this condition?

A.The cause of Cushing's is usually a disturbance to the pituitary gland in the brain. This disturbance causes more steroid hormone to be produced in the body. Common signs of the disease are a long, hairy coat with a large belly, laminitis, more drinking and urininating than usual, sweating and repeated non-specific infections with slow healing of wounds.

Even more serious signs may be blindness and fits. The condition is most commonly confused with laminitis caused by digestive imbalance.

It is possible to treat a horse which is affected by Cushing's, but is not easy, as the problem is often caused by a tumour on the pituitary gland. As far as management goes, you should try to reduce the risk of complications and try to keep your horse as generally healthy as possible. Make sure she is wormed regularly, that you give her good hoof care, keep up to date with her tetanus vaccination and get her teeth checked regularly. Feed a good mineral supplement, and immune system feed supplements can help a lot.

As for the treatment of Cushing's disease, drugs such as cyproheptadine, pergolide and bromocriptine can be used and can effectively control the problem. Ask your vet for advice.

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