The RVC calls for participants as it launches new study into the effects of Cushing’s disease in horses and ponies

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC), in partnership with CVS Group plc, has launched a new study to explore the effects of Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), commonly known as Equine Cushing’s disease, in adult and older horses and ponies in the UK. The study aims to better understand the impact of the disease on horses’ and ponies’ quality of life and is hoped to improve monitoring and decision-making regarding treatment of the disease around the world.

PPID is a common hormone disease, usually experienced by older equines. Affecting approximately 25% of horses and ponies over the age of 15 years, it has several associated clinical symptoms that can impact quality of life, including the painful hoof condition, laminitis; weight loss and lethargy.

Due to the nature of these symptoms, owners frequently mistake some of these clinical signs as being associated with ageing and therefore, not worrying enough to seek veterinary advice. Additionally, when diagnosed, owners are often required to provide increased physical care, alongside greater costs, both of which can carry an emotional burden for them.

To better support animals, veterinarians and owners, the RVC’s study seeks to develop a validated equine quality of life tool to objectively assess the impact of the condition on an individual horse’s quality of life. This will help support decision-making related to treatment and/or euthanasia options for horses and ponies diagnosed with PPID. In doing so, the RVC research team, led by Aline Bouquet, PhD Candidate and Research Assistant, and supported by Professor Nicola Menzies-Gow, Professor in Equine Medicine, and Professor Christine Nicol, Professor of Animal Welfare, is calling on horse and pony owners to complete an online survey, providing much-needed data for the initial development of the tool.

The newly developed tool will then be used in a study involving more than 100 horses recently diagnosed with PPID and will follow these horses over a two-year period, observing the impact of the disease and its treatment on their quality of life.

Participants can have horses and ponies with PPID as well as those without the condition and must be older than ten years of age. The survey will take no longer than 15 minutes to complete, providing an assessment of the animal’s quality of life, clinical signs associated with PPID and any additional veterinary-related problems.

Aline Bouquet, PhD Candidate and Research Assistant in the Assessment of Quality of Life in Equines with PPID, said:

"Results from this project will better our understanding in how this disease and its treatment impact the quality of life of individual horses and ponies, which can hopefully then help vets and owners to assess and monitor the impact, guide management decision-making and thus improve the welfare of affected horses and ponies."

Owners who wish to participate can sign up for the study at:­023-stage1

More information about the study can be found at:­rch/projec­ts/objecti­ve-assessm­ent-of-the­-quality-o­f-life-of-­equines-wi­th-pituita­ry-pars-in­termedia-d­ysfunction