Older horses Part 6: Diseases due to changing hormone balances
The two most known hormonal diseases are digestive system related diseases. Namely PPID (Cushing) and Insulin resistance (IR). Older horses experience changes in their hormonal balance, so it is not surprising that these horses are particularly susceptible to PPID and insulin resistance.
PPID stands for Pituitary (= pituitary) Pars (= part) Intermedia (= in between) Dysfunction (disturbed effect). A part of the brain, the pituitary gland, no longer functions properly because a tumor has developed, which causes the pituitary gland to produce too much hormone. The deregulated hormone release gives rise to the typical characteristics of a horse with PPID such as long curly fur, difficult shedding, fat storage above the eyes (disturbed fat and sugar metabolism), hoof confinement, a hanging belly and excessive drinking and peeing. The life expectancy of a horse with PPID is good, there are many horses that get very old with this diagnosis. The medicine for horses with PPID is called Prascend.
Insulin resistance is a condition, usually in overweight horses, where blood sugar levels can no longer be properly regulated because the cells have become insensitive to insulin. Due to the insensitivity of the cells, the blood sugar level remains high and the insulin-producing pancreas works overtime to compensate for this. At a certain point the pancreas gives up and stops making insulin. No more insulin is produced by the horse. This keeps the glucose concentration in the blood constantly too high, which is unfavorable for many organs. There will now also be glucose in the urine, this is often the case with horses with PPID. Until the pancreas makes insulin, the disease can be cured by making the cells sensitive to insulin with an appropriate diet and exercise.
Insulin resistance is usually caused by a diet with too many non-structural carbohydrates (starch and sugars) in combination with being overweight and too little exercise. Insulin resistance can also be caused by a disturbed hormone balance of a mare, stress or an inflammation of the intestine.
Everything in the horse’s body is linked together
Being overweight can cause insulin resistance which in turn can cause Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). PPID increases the risk of insulin resistance, PPID and insulin resistance both increase the risk of hoof confinement. Ensure that energy from the ration is in balance with the energy requirement of the horse. Optimally support the older horse with nutrition by feeding the Hartog 5 * Complete Care Senior. Hartog 5 * Complete Care Senior provides the older horse with a consistent quality, easily digestible roughage and herbs. The added balancer provides the horse with daily maintenance needs such as vitamins, minerals, organically bound trace elements and essential amino acids.
The next article Older horses Part 7: Bad mood due to standing still