Recently I have received several inquiries about Cushing’s disease, so I thought it would be a good idea to share some info with you:
As Dr. Brian McLaren has said “The cause is due to an increased secretion by the adrenal glands, and while it is relatively common
in humans, it is the most common endocrinological condition of old dogs, and it is infrequent in other animals.
In humans it is normally due to a tumor of the adrenal gland, while in dogs the cause is often (90%) a tumor of the
pituitary itself, though the cause is unknown in 10%.
In horses, it is assumed that it may be a pituitary tumor (adenoma) but both adenomas and carcinomas of the adrenals have
also been reported, and there is always a residual percentage that does not show signs of either. Some adenomas and carcinomas
become functional secretory organs themselves and metastasize to other organs. This factor alone accounts for the known
production of the spectrum of complex and often ill defined endocrine effects.
Testing is only 80-85% accurate with many false positives. The end result is that surgery is risky and inaccurate, and
pharmacological treatment aimed at reducing or correcting the symptoms is constant, lifelong, expensive, and has
concurrent side effects. In animals, the initial high dose treatment is for at least a week before a lifelong maintenance
schedule can produce an adequate clinical remission.
With APT the treatment is very effective, relatively cheap and intermittent, being only 3 times a week for the first four
weeks, then treatment may (or may not) need to be repeated annually. There are no side effects!
While in dogs and humans hair loss is common, in horses the most often observed sign is lack of shedding out. The resolution
of the lack of shedding in horses starts within the first few days and is virtually complete within 3-6 weeks. If other symptoms
appear, these should be treated separately and not necessarily be seen as being part of Cushings, e.g. low grade arthritis,
mood changes, fertility problems, muscle wastage and muscle weakness, immune system suppression, diarrhoea, fat deposition,
or depending on what other organ is involved (liver, kidneys, lungs).“
Article: Cushings in a Prize Dressage Horse
Dr. Brian McLaren, Q.D.A.H., B.V.Sc., C.V.A.(IVAS), P/Grad.Dip, M.App.Sc.
I was called to attend to a prize dressage horse in July 2010. The mare was obviously suffering from Cushing’s Disease and
had not shed out the previous Summer. The owner stated that the mare was not her normal self, being as rough as a cart-horse
to ride, with a stilted movement, and not at all generous in her response to aids.
While the general body condition was heavy, there was not a specific problem with excess fat pads on the neck or butt of tail.
Treatment was initiated with photonic therapy, 3 times a week bilaterally on the acupuncture points nominated below.
As well as the recommended base of 9 standard points.
Specific points to encourage shedding out used were TH 1, 17, 23 and BL 13, 23,
Within the first 10 days the mare had shed in patches covering half her head, neck and body, and the owner claimed
she was much smoother to ride. By the end of the treatment the mare had completely recovered and remained sound