Horses and Insulin

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. 

Hey, that's great, the more insulin the better, right?

Not exactly. As with most aspects in life, too much of a good thing has the opposite effect. Excessive insulin production--known as insulin resistance (hyperinsulinemia)--can have dire consequences. In horses, it is the primary risk factor for foundering, or laminitis, a degenerative inflammatory hoof condition that is the second leading cause of death in horses. 

Risk Factors

Some horses are simply genetically predisposed to insulin resistance and equine metabolic syndrome 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. 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.

With the Wellness Ready™ Equine Insulin Test, you and your veterinarian now have the ability to instantly monitor and consistently regulate your horse’s insulin levels over time to control your horse’s risk of foundering through a comprehensive veterinary management plan that includes diet, exercise, nutraceuticals and/or pharmaceuticals.

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 now 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. Glucorticoid-induced laminitis is now preventable in your horse with stall side use of our Wellness Ready™ Equine Insulin Test immediately prior to joint injections. 

Talk to your veterinarian today to schedule your horse’s first Wellness Ready™ Equine Insulin Test and take control of your horse’s laminitis risk.