Equine Cushing's Syndrome (ECS)Horses suffering from Equine Cushing's Syndrome (ECS) can, with the right treatment, husbandry and nutrition, lead a horse-friendly and happy life. It is of great importance in the first step to recognize that it is about the ECS. Unfortunately, Equine Cushing Syndrome (ECS) is often confused with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). In addition, there are horses that develop an insulin resistance due to the Equine Cushing Syndrome (disturbance in the sugar metabolism as in EMS). This means that in the first step it must be determined whether the horse or pony suffers from ECS or EMS or even both diseases are present. And if EMS (pathological insulin resistance) is excluded, does the ECS additionally trigger a strain in the sugar metabolism or not?? Because this is critical for husbandry and nutrition. If there is no exact diagnosis, the treatment, attitude and nutrition cannot be adjusted optimally and there will always be symptoms up to laminitis. At this point I would also like to refer to the article on EMS and insulin resistance.
Equine Cushing Syndrome
Equine Cushing's Syndrome is accompanied by numerous symptoms caused by excess cortisol secretion. In most cases, the cause is hyperplasia (enlargement) or a benign tumor (adenoma) in the pituitary gland (hypophysis). This increases the release of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), which in turn causes the adrenal cortex to produce cortisol. ACTH and cortisol are so-called stress hormones and regulate numerous metabolic processes. Among other things, cortisol has an influence on carbohydrate metabolism. May cause insulin resistance. This does not always have to go hand in hand with obesity as in Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), but can also lead to emaciation or. lead to storage of individual fat deposits. Unfortunately, there are horses that suffer pathologically from both ECS and EMS. EMS is a metabolic disease of the sugar metabolism, which can only be controlled by a targeted and holistic nutritional therapy, metabolism-appropriate posture and exercise, where the ECS can be influenced very well with medication. Now under practice conditions the symptom recognition is often very difficult and not seldom the ECS is recognized only very late and is also confused with the EMS. ECS does not only occur in old horses and should always be excluded by blood diagnostics (ACTH determination) in case of suspicion. The following are the possibilities for diagnosis when ECS is suspected. Also for proper adjustment to the drug Prascend.
The following are the diagnostic options for EMS
Symptoms of ECS
The typical very dense and long coat, which also curls in advanced stages, is considered a typical symptom of ECS, but is a symptom (due to hirsutism) that develops only in very advanced stages. Also laminitis occurs in most horses only in an advanced stage. However, many other symptoms appear much earlier. Can prevent much suffering if detected in time. From my experience it is therefore very, very important to observe the horses well and, in case of suspicion, to have the ACTH value checked by means of a blood test in order to exclude a possible ECS disease.
If Equine Cushing Syndrome is detected, it can be controlled with Prascend. The effect of this dopamine antagonist is to reduce the excess ACTH release. To contain the associated excessive formation of cortisone. We generally advise to check the effect of Prascend by means of ACTH determination 2 times a year, because it may be that the daily administration must be adjusted. Note that horses that are stressed, have been transported or are sick and in pain at the time of blood sampling often have high ACTH levels without suffering from ECS. In order to ensure a meaningful measurement result, it is recommended that the horse is handled calmly and that no strenuous training or trailer rides take place 48 hours before the blood sample is taken.
Ferdinand, warmblood with 29 years and despite ECS still fit!
A healthy feeding with ECS
If ECS occurs together with insulin resistance or if the horse or pony suffers from ECS and EMS, special dietetics should be observed:
– 2 % hay related to the ideal body weight of the horse. We recommend hay with a sugar-. Use a starch content of less than 10. (Hay analyses can be done at the LUFA, here the sugar content is decisive (ethanol soluble sugars, not the fructan content) – as crib feed unmelassed beet pulp (sugar 5%, starch 1% – the lowest sugar crib feed) is suitable!) as well as low-sugar and low-starch hay cobs (less than 10% sugar + starch content) – if possible, hay analyses are recommended. This enables us to produce an individual mineral feed (OrthoIndividual) to suit the hay and the metabolic peculiarity – if hay analyses are not possible, we recommend the use of Complex 711 – ca. 40 g of freshly ground linseed per 230 kg of body weight – salt lick
Attention: Please do not feed grass, treats, cereals, apples, carrots, ready-to-eat feed or fruit.
Feeding in ECS without insulin resistance
If there is no insulin resistance and the horse suffers only from ECS without involvement in sugar metabolism, feeding can be adjusted as needed. Then grazing is no problem and also the administration of alfalfa and grain, which many old horses need to maintain their weight in old age. If higher amounts of concentrates are needed, please always offer min. 2 to 3 meals per day to. Also hay should be on mind. 3 to 4 meals per day and if higher amounts of hay cobs are needed, please also add these to at least 3 meals per day. Divide 2 to 3 gifts per day. In any case you should pay attention to a balanced diet. High quality micronutrient supply. The need for essential amino acids, vitamin E, magnesium, antioxidants and trace elements is increased in this disease and should be supplemented through the diet as needed. This supports and optimizes the immune system, metabolism, musculature, hoof quality, mobility and overall vitality.