Cushing’s Disease in Horses

What is Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s is a condition often seen in older horses and caused by a benign tumor developing in the pituitary gland. As this tumor slowly grows, it disturbs the balance between the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, the thyroid, and the adrenal cortex. This results in the body secreting excessive hormones — primarily a stress hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol can affect the body negatively in many different ways.

Symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Fat pockets and cresty necks
  • Heavier and longer winter coats
  • Not shedding their winter coats in spring
  • Pot belly
  • Muscle wasting
  • Weight loss
  • Geldings may get swollen sheaths
  • Laminitis
  • Some horses lack energy and stamina as the first sign that something is wrong

While the above symptoms may indicate that a horse or pony is suffering from Cushing’s disease, there are other issues that could be to blame. A veterinarian must first complete a physical exam, along with a complete blood profile to rule out other causes. Once that is done, there are special blood tests that can be run to properly diagnose this condition.

Horses with Cushing’s disease are extremely prone to laminitis, a debilitating inflammatory condition inside the hoof. Regular farrier visits and limited access to lush pasture will help prevent this. Careful management of the horse’s diet will help combat weight loss. Lastly, because Cushing’s disease weakens the horse’s immune system, make sure to properly clean and disinfect any superficial wounds found on the horse’s body.

Cushing’s disease in horses can be very well managed and supported with Homeopathy. I have also successfully supported Dogs with Cushing’s. If you have a horse or dog with Cushing’s and you would like to manage it in a more natural way please contact me.


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The information contained in this website is not intended to replace guidance from your veterinarian. Bowen Therapy and Homeopathy are complementary to veterinary treatment and the general care of the animal.