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Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract. 2009 Apr;25(1):51-65, vi. doi: 10.1016/j.cveq.2009.02.001.

Dietary management of obesity and insulin resistance: countering risk for laminitis.

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  • 1Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences,Veterinary Medical Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Insulin resistance (IR) and hyperinsulinemia increase risk for development of laminitis in horses and ponies. Obesity also has been associated with heightened risk for laminitis, likely by means of development of IR. Dietary factors, particularly the nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC) load, modulate risk for laminitis in these animals by means of exacerbation of IR or gastrointestinal disturbances that trigger the condition. Specific dietary management strategies to lessen risk for laminitis include caloric restriction to promote weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity in obese animals and strict control of dietary NSCs, with elimination of grains and sweet feeds from the ration and restricted access to pastures that may be rich in NSCs. Medical treatment with levothyroxine or metformin may be indicated in animals that do not respond to conservative dietary management.

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