The value of a tailored diet and exercise programme for horses and ponies prone to laminitis due to equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) has been shown in a British study.
The researchers from the University of Edinburgh and University of Liverpool recruited 19 animals in the study.
Ruth Morgan and her colleagues set out to determine if significant weight loss, accompanied by improvements in measures of insulin sensitivity, could be achieved in horses and ponies with their EMS managed by their owners at home under veterinary guidance.
Horses and ponies that had attended two university hospitals for investigation and treatment of suspected EMS were eligible for inclusion in the study. Of the 19 used, 17 had a history of laminitis.
They underwent a clinical examination and endocrine testing. Those with Cushing’s disease were excluded.
Each owner was given an individually tailored diet and exercise programme to follow for their horse for three to six months.
Afterwards, clinical examinations and endocrine tests were repeated and the results compared to the initial assessments.
All the animals were found to have lower body scores when reassessed, with 18 of the 19 animals recording a reduction in body weight.
The researchers, whose findings are reported in the Equine Veterinary Journal, found improved insulin levels on several measures, including a combined glucose insulin tolerance test.
They concluded that a diet and exercise programme tailored to the needs of the individual animal and implemented by the owner resulted in weight loss accompanied by improvements in insulin sensitivity.
“Treatment of EMS is essential to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of laminitis,” they said.
“Caloric restriction and increased exercise are the mainstay of treatment but there is potential for poor owner compliance.”
Treatment of Equine Metabolic Syndrome: a clinical case series
R. A. Morgan, J. A. Keen and C. M. McGowan.
The abstract can be read here.