EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) and PPID (Cushing’s)  are two very common health disorders in horses.  It is helpful for owners to know some of the warning signs and to be able to understand the difference.

EMS describes a collection of metabolic abnormalities that include obesity, insulin resistance, and subsequent laminitis.  EMS is likely tied to a genetic pre-disposition.  Certain horses and breeds seem to be more prone to the disorder and are commonly referred as “easy keepers”.

Symptoms include:

  • Middle Aged horse ( 8-18 years)
  • Abnormal fatty deposits
  • Cresty necks
  • Laminitis

For more info on EMS:

 > SmartPak’s Health Library

 > University of Minnesota

 > University of Edinburgh 

Cushing’s is due to the overproduction of certain pituitary hormones.  This disease occurs when a tumor called a pituitary adenoma develops in the pituitary gland which sends a signal for the body to secrete excessive hormones.

Symtoms include:

  • Usually seen in older horses  (15 and up)
  • Muscle loss along the topline
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Long thick coat that does not shed easily

For more information on Cushing’s:

 > SmartPak’s Health Library

 > University of Edinburgh 

 > The Horse – Managing Equine Cushing’s Disease