What’s the best way you can reduce the risk of laminitis? The simple answer – maintaining a healthy weight. It’s often easier said than done, but letting your horse become overweight significantly increases his risk of developing laminitis.
Why is this?
High levels of insulin circulating around the body for prolonged periods of time is often enough to cause laminitis, even if your horse’s blood sugar levels are normal. So, the next question is what causes insulin levels to rise. The two key issues highlighted by researchers are Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), (formerly known as Cushing’s disease) and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), which is typically characterised by obesity. Both of these cause disruptions to the regulation of hormones, such as insulin, in your horse’s body. This is why managing your horse’s weight is the best thing you can do to reduce his risk of developing laminitis.
Top tips for weight management
With careful weight management being the name of the game, here are our six tips to keep your horse on the straight and narrow…
- Choose low-sugar and low-starch feeds. Some mixes and cubes claim to be low in sugar and starch and, while they probably are relative to other cereal-based feeds, they may still contain between 12–20%. That’s not to say that you need to eliminate sugar and starch from your horse’s diet entirely – remember, even hay, grass and straw aren’t sugar-free – but in general you should look out for feeds with no more than 10% sugar and starch combined. Dengie Hi-Fi Molasses Free is a great option, having a naturally occurring sugar level of 2.5% and just 1.5% starch.
- Monitor your horse’s weight – weightape and condition score regularly to ensure you spot any changes early. If you notice your horse’s weight increasing, restrict his grazing using a muzzle, bare paddock or track system.
- Weigh your horse’s forage. If you’re not sure how much your horse should receive ask a nutritionist for advice.
- Soaking hay helps to reduce its sugar content but doesn’t necessarily change the calorie content. Consider getting it analysed to know exactly what your horse is consuming. Forages that contain grass varieties such as Timothy tend to be lower in energy and sugar than varieties like rye grass.
- Ensure your horse’s diet is balanced – add a low-calorie balancer or broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement. This is especially important when on a diet or reduced rations because he’ll be getting less from his forage.
- Exercise can help to increase energy expenditure and so help contribute to weight loss. There is some evidence in other species that exercise also helps to improve insulin sensitivity. Prepare an exercise plan with the help of your trainer or instructor. Exercise can be done from the ground via lunging or long-reining if riding isn’t possible.
DID YOU KNOW?
The products below have all been independently approved by The Laminitis Trust
How to choose the right low-calorie feed from the Dengie range
Hi-Fi Molasses Free is ideal for horses who need a low-calorie, -sugar and -starch ration as well as those who are prone to laminitis. It’s key benefits include…
- no added sugar and just 1.5% starch and 2.5% sugar
- includes mint, fenugreek and alfalfa pellets for great taste
- 100% British ingredients
- free from grass so contains no unnecessary sugar
Healthy Hooves Molasses Free is convenient to feed because it’s already nutritionally balanced, so you don’t need to feed anything else provided you stick to the recommended amounts. Its benefits include…
- biotin and calcium for healthy hooves
- contains no added sugar
- low in calories, with just 2.5% naturally occurring sugars and 1.5% starch
- includes garlic and alfalfa pellets for great taste and added interest
Hi-Fi Lite provides extra chew time and is pellet-free, offering more chews per scoop. Some benefits of Hi-Fi Lite include…
- contains 7% sugar – less than grass hay
- can be used as a low-calorie forage replacer
- great value, with 66 Stubbs scoops per bale
- low in starch – just 1.5%
All Dengie feeds are also free from treated straw.
Download or view online the Dengie Laminitis Guide for further help and advice or speak to one of Dengie’s nutritionists.
For friendly advice or information, visit dengie.com or call 01621 841188.