UK vets are being urged to routinely test for pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) at the annual health check or vaccination visit for horses aged 15 and older.

The data revealed, regardless of presenting clinical signs, a horse aged 15 to 20 is three times more likely to have pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction.

The recommendation follows the analysis of data collected as part of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Talk About Laminitis (TAL) disease awareness initiative, which has seen more than 47,000 horses tested for PPID since it was launched in 2012.

Three times more likely

The data revealed, regardless of presenting clinical signs, a horse aged 15 to 20 is three times more likely to have PPID compared to a horse younger than 10, and this risk increases with age.

For example, a horse of 20 to 25 is six times more likely to have PPID compared to a horse younger than 10 and a horse aged 25 to 30 is 10 times more likely to have PPID.

Insidious clinical signs

Despite the high prevalence of PPID in the older horse population, it is also recognised the disease’s clinical signs are insidious in onset and that owners may simply associate them with the ageing process.

One study demonstrated in a single population of horses aged more than 15 only, 1.6% of owners reported signs of PPID. However, when the same group of horses was examined by a veterinary surgeon, 21% were found to have signs of the disease.

Jo Ireland, veterinary surgeon at the University of Liverpool, said: “It is often difficult for owners to spot the signs of PPID, as they frequently associate them with the ageing process. However, PPID is now the fifth most commonly diagnosed disease in horses in the UK.”

Routinely test

The Talk About Laminitis disease awareness initiative runs from June until the end of October.

Dr Ireland added: “We are, therefore, encouraging veterinary surgeons to routinely test horses older than 15 years of age or those displaying signs of PPID with an adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH] test.”

Earlier identification of PPID allows owners to make informed decisions about treatment and management to ensure their horses stay as healthy as possible. This is particularly important when laminitis may be a consequence of uncontrolled PPID.

The TAL disease awareness initiative runs from June until the end of October and aims to raise awareness of the underlying hormonal causes of laminitis – PPID and equine metabolic syndrome.

The initiative, supported by Redwings Horse Sanctuary, the British Horse Society and World Horse Welfare, is now in its sixth consecutive year.

As part of the scheme, the laboratory fees for the blood test that detects PPID (the basal ACTH test) are free.

For further information on TAL, visit www.talkaboutlaminitis.co.uk

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