Risk Factors for Laminitis

Insulin is a natural hormone that regulates metabolism at the cellular level. Without insulin, our cells would not receive the nutritional energy needed to survive. 

However, excessive insulin production (hyperinsulinemia) can have dire consequences. In horses, it is the primary risk factor for laminitis, a degenerative inflammatory hoof condition that is the second leading cause of death in horses. 

Risk Factors

Some horses are genetically predisposed to hyperinsulinemia and related metabolic issues and should be routinely monitored. This is most common among Arabians, Warmbloods, Morgans, and ponies, though no breed is immune. 

Others develop the condition over time through the overconsumption of sugar (glucose), which leads to obesity, which increases the risk of developing insulin resistance (IR). In human cases of IR, the pancreas will eventually stop producing insulin altogether (type 2 diabetes). But the equine pancreas will continue to produce more and more insulin. That's why IR cases in horses can sometimes go undetected for long periods of time.

Additionally, scientific research studies have also determined that the incidence of insulin resistance increases with aging.

What horses are at risk

With the Wellness Ready™ Stall Side Insulin Test, you and your veterinarian now have the ability to instantly determine a horse's risk for laminitis based on realtime insulin levels, and intervene as necessary. 

Another often overlooked risk factor for insulin-induced laminitis comes in the form of joint injections. A class of drugs named glucocorticoids, that includes triamcinolone and dexamethasone, are very routinely used in joint injections to reduce inflammation in joint tissues. However, glucocorticoids have been demonstrated to cause a spike in insulin levels that can lead a horse to rapidly develop a severe case of laminitis. Horses with underlying insulin resistance are at increased risk of foundering with administration of glucocorticoid drugs. 

Your veterinarian can use Wellness Ready to instantly test the insulin concentration of your horse prior to conducting joint injections and avoid the use of glucocorticoid drugs if your horse has underlying insulin resistance issues that may not have been apparent based on your horse’s body conditioning, breed or age.

Be proactive and talk to your veterinarian today about the Wellness Ready™ Stall Side Insulin Test.