Skip to main content

Recognizing equine PPID (Cushing’s Disease) symptoms

Early symptoms of PPID in horses are often missed

The signs and symptoms of PPID can vary depending on the level of progression of the disease and the individual horse. While the signs of advanced PPID are more obvious, it is easy to miss the subtle, early symptoms of PPID.

Laminitis is a sign of PPID

Classic symptoms of PPID (Cushing’s Disease) in horses

While there are many clinical signs and symptoms of PPID, abnormal hair coat and laminitis are the two most well known. Both of these symptoms can occur at all stages of the disease but tend to be subtle earlier on and increase in severity as the disease progresses.

Abnormal hair coat

Horse with very long coat

Abnormal hair coat, including a lack of seasonal shedding, is one of the classic clinical signs of equine PPID.

In early PPID,

haircoat abnormalities tend to be subtle and regional. Your horse may shed his winter coat everywhere except in small patches—usually around the jawline and base of the neck, and along the back of the front and hind legs. The summer coat may grow longer and lighter in colour in these areas.

In advanced PPID,

hair coat abnormalities are more noticeable and generalized; your horse does not shed out his winter coat until well into spring or summer, or in some cases, not at all. The fur may also appear abnormal—lighter in colour, longer, and/or curly.


Over 50% of horses with PPID are affected by laminitis

Laminitis is the inflammation of sensitive layers of tissue inside the hoof. Laminitis is considered both an early sign and an advanced sign of PPID. Laminitis can also occur in a number of situations other than PPID, including equine metabolic syndrome.

Laminitis has been shown to be associated with abnormal insulin levels.

Laminitis can be a devastating disease. It is extremely painful and debilitating for the horse. In severe cases, euthanasia is often the only option. Recognizing the early signs of laminitis is important to increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.


Equine laminitis signs, in order of disease progression, include:

A strong digital pulse and hooves that feel warm to the touch

A shortened stride or stiff gait

Horse hoof deformities, including abnormal hoof growth rings

A pronounced white line between the hoof wall and sole

Shifting weight from hoof to hoof

Reluctance or refusal to move or to pick up the feet

An abnormal stance in which the horse may appear rocked back or forward

Early signs and symptoms of equine PPID (Cushing’s Disease)

Recognizing the early clinical signs of PPID is important, as it can help lead to an earlier diagnosis of PPID. The sooner you can begin treatment, the easier it is to manage the symptoms.

Early symptoms of PPID in horses include:

Advanced signs and symptoms of PPID (Cushing’s Disease)

Advanced PPID symptoms are more obvious; these include:

Can you identify the signs of PPID?

Learn about PPID and test your knowledge

about this often-overlooked disease by taking the quiz. Start the quiz