Equine laminitis is the painful condition resulting from disruption of the laminar bonds within the foot. Understanding the dietary triggers may facilitate strategies to prevent laminitis in susceptible animals. The purpose of this review is to examine how dietary factors may lead to insulin resistance and/or excessive insulin production from the pancreas, and why certain breeds or types of horses are more predisposed to this form of laminitis than others. Understanding these relationships will be very important when considering appropriate feeds and the dietary countermeasures necessary for preventing this condition. It is important to note the breed type when considering the likely metabolic effects of dietary carbohydrate, because there are major differences between the Thoroughbred/Standardbred type and some other breeds of horses and ponies. Ponies and certain breeds of horses produce excessive amounts of insulin in response to dietary carbohydrates and this may lead to the development of the three main features of the equine metabolic syndrome, namely obesity, insulin resistance and laminitis. Relative glycaemic index or glycaemic load may be useful in predicting peak plasma insulin (with due consideration for breed type), but carbohydrates such as starch and fructans may have particularly marked effects on insulin sensitivity. Although it is normal for ponies and certain horse breeds to be relatively insulin resistant, it may be possible to reduce the likelihood of exacerbating insulin resistance in obese animals with careful dietary modification. This may help to some extent in reducing hyperinsulinaemia and thereby reducing the risk of laminitis.
Animal Production Science – CSIRO Publishing
Published: Sep 17, 2013
Keywords: body condition score, equine, founder, nutrition, sugar.
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