Mobile Equine Veterinary Service

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Dr. Porter @ 352-258-3571
portermi.dvm@gmail.com

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Equine Hirsutism


The horses pictured below are both suffering from a condition known as equine hirsutism. The condition can be described as an irregular or excessive hair coat throughout the year. Normally, a horse will develop a winter coat for the cooler months and then shed the coat throughout the spring months. Horses suffering from  hirsutism will develop a thick coat throughout the year and will require regular, full body clips to keep cool during the hot summer months. 



By far, the most likely cause of equine hirsutism is equine cushing's disease. This is an endocrine disorder that is centered in the brain of the horse and results in excessive cortisone production. Much more serious than a persistent shaggy hair coat, horses with cushing's disease are highly susceptible to founder (laminitis) and a compromised immune system. Testing for equine cushing's disease is a tricky process and may involve measuring serum levels of cortisol and ACTH. In addition, horses can be tested via a Dexamethasone suppression test which may be risky procedure if the horse has a history of founder. As such, it is commonly recommended that if the horse is suffering from hirsutism, it should be assumed that the horse is likely to be also suffering from equine cushing's disease and should be treated for the latter. Recently, the preferred drug of treatment knows as Pergolide became available to equine owners in the form of a FDA approved drug called Prascend. Horses as young as 10 years of age can develop these symptoms and should be treated sooner than later!


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