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Study looks at early laminitis risk factors

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New study shows routine insulin dysregulation testing could help prevent development of full-blown laminitis

A study by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has shown that screening of equines for insulin dysregulation (ID) could prove a useful tool for picking up animals at risk of developing laminitis even when no physical indications can be seen.

The association between ID and laminitis is well established, and vets agree that early detection of ID is likely to be useful in preventing the condition. However, the study by the RVC, in association with the Waltham Equine Studies Group and Spillers, shows the link between ID and laminitis is more complex than originally thought. As a result, it’s suggested that the oral sugar tests (OSTs used to diagnose ID could be more widely applied in order to pick up cases of ID in the equine population before laminitis develops.

Researchers from the RVC performed OSTs on 367 non-laminitic ponies each spring and autumn over a period of four years. The OSTs measured the concentration of insulin in the blood before and 60 minutes after the ponies were given sugar syrup and the results indicated that ID may occur in ponies across a wide range of body conditions, ages and levels of exercise.

The findings have reinforced the view that physical observation alone is not a wholly accurate predictor of ID, which will be particularly useful to vets when identifying ponies for ID screening, helping to ensure that early indicators of increased laminitis risk aren’t missed.

Nicola Menzies-Gow, Professor in Equine Medicine at the Royal Veterinary College and co-author of the study, said: Laminitis is a painful and potentially devastating condition affecting horses, ponies and donkeys worldwide. Our studies focus on trying to identify those individual animals that are at a high risk of developing the condition so that preventative strategies can be implemented before the disease occurs.”

To read the full paper and findings, visit beva.onlinelibrary.wiley.com

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