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Q&A: Metabolic Disorders

Question: I’ve been hearing a lot about metabolic disorders in horses, but the more I hear, the more confused I get! What’s the difference between IR, EMS and Cushing’s, and what can be done for horses with each condition?

Answer: Insulin Resistance (IR) is when the body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, a critical hormone that transports sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into tissues. IR is one of the three hallmarks of Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), obesity and laminitis being the other two. EMS is most commonly seen in middle-aged horses and in certain breeds prone to being “easy keepers”. Horses with EMS don’t metabolize carbohydrates properly, resulting in problems like weight gain and laminitis.

These horses are usually placed on a weight loss diet and an exercise program. Grain, sugary treats and even pasture are off limits. Instead, their nutritional requirements should be met with a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement like SmartVite EZ Keeper Grass Pellets. In addition, there are some high-quality metabolic support supplements available. SmartControl IR Pellets are formulated to support a healthy metabolism and provides antioxidants to protect against the cellular stress caused by this condition.

Cushing’s Disease is most commonly seen in senior horses and is caused by an overactive pituitary gland, leading to a hormonal imbalance. Signs of Cushing’s include a long, curly coat, weight loss and muscle wasting. A low-starch diet is critical to the management of a horse with Cushing’s, so they too can benefit from a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Many veterinarians prescribe the medication Prascend as part of the maintenance program.

Because horses with Cushing’s can have compromised immune function, it’s important to keep a close eye on their health. For the same reason, horses with Cushing’s can benefit from a supplement that provides antioxidants and other ingredients that support the immune system, like SmartProtect Ultra.

Question: Help! How can I give my IR horse enough turnout time without letting him graze?

Answer: Great question! Adequate turnout is important to your horse’s mental and physical well-being, even if he’s not allowed to graze. Nip his nibbling in the bud with the Deluxe Grazing Muzzle. This combination grazing muzzle and breakaway halter will keep your horse from getting the grass, while offering plenty of ventilation and still allowing him to drink. With a plastic side-release buckle as a breakaway feature, you can set your mind at ease while your horse is turned out.

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