Is your horse’s PPID treatment working?

adjust ppid treatment regimen
About 20 percent of horses over age 15 develop pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID). (Getty Images)

Most horses diagnosed with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction can be kept healthy and comfortable with a combination of medication and management measures. The majority of PPID horses receive pergolide, a dopamine agonist medication that is highly effective in treating this endocrine disorder.

However once PPID horses start treatment with pergolide, they remain on it for life. And periodic evaluation of the dosage ensures control of the condition. Watch for subtle signs that your horse’s PPID is worsening. These include

Duller coat and less energy

If a horse’s coat loses its luster and his muscles seem to be shrinking, it’s time to ask your veterinarian to reevaluate his PPID treatment. Another related sign is a tendency to sleep more often and longer.

Increased drinking and urination

Increased urination and thirst signals that a horse’s PPID is not controlled by his current medication levels.

Elevated blood insulin levels

Blood insulin levels can be particularly helpful in determining the efficacy of ongoing PPID treatment—an increase may signal worsening of the disease and a need to increase the dose of pergolide.

Unfortunately, there’s no formula for determining when to increase a PPID horse’s pergolide dosage. Instead, your veterinarian will customize treatment based on your horse’s needs as time passes. But by carefully observing your horse, you can help your veterinarian make sure your horse remains as healthy and comfortable as possible.

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