Horses and ponies are living longer, and better, than ever before thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and owners with a commitment to keeping their animals healthy and happy. Due to horses’ longer life expectancy, there has been an increase in cases of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), more commonly known as Cushing’s Disease. If your horse or pony has PPID, then you’re aware of the classic clinical signs that include a long and curly coat, lethargy, poor performance, and weight loss.

Boehringer Ingelheim Prascend® is the first and only Health Canada-approved product for the management of PPID in horses.

Dr. Harold Schott, a professor at Michigan State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, has been involved in a 13-year study investigating the long-term effects of pergolide, the drug most often used to treat PPID. The study is still in preparation for submission for publication; however, Dr. Schott gave a talk on his research at the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention in November 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. Some of the findings revealed that 15–20% of horses and ponies aged 15 years or older had developed PPID, increasing to nearly 30% in horses over 30 years of age. The study found that the average age of affected horses is around 20 years. All breeds and types of equids can be affected with PPID, but ponies appear to be at greater risk.

Dr. Scott and his colleagues also found that pergolide, while not extending life, did vastly improve quality of life by improving clinical signs. Results also showed that pergolide has been able to stabilize the endocrine test results, including on low doses.

Part of the upcoming paper also includes an owner survey about pergolide, with 71% of horse owners ‘strongly’ agreeing and an additional 25% agreeing that the drug improved their horses’ quality of life after 10 years. Another result was that 88% of owners agreed or strongly agreed they would provide lifelong treatment. And close to three-quarters of the owners who were surveyed said they were willing to spend at least $1,000 per year in pergolide treatment for the duration of their animal’s life.