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Horses have been great domestic pets for centuries. “If the insulin concentration is above 20 micro-units per milliliter [after fasting] the horse is said to be insulin resistant,” says Pratt-Phillips. IR – Insulin Resistance: What is it really? Insulin resistance (IR) can arise from a disease (PPID / Cushing), but it is also very often caused by a horse being given too much or too energy-rich nutrition for a long time. It … The horse’s pancreas, an important organ of the endocrine system, produces and regulates the release of insulin, a hormone that functions to metabolize and balance the body’s main source of fuel, glucose. You could be insulin resistant for years without knowing, especially if your blood glucose levels aren’t checked. Insulin Resistance/Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) in Equines. Though considered a robust and a strong pet, it is still prone to many diseases. Diabetic symptoms would almost always come before a horse … Horses most commonly have compensated insulin resistance and rarely develop pancreatic exhaustion and type 2 diabetes (Durham and others 2009). If a horse takes in more energy over a longer period of time than it uses for daily life and work, all kinds of problems arise. Insulin and leptin resistance are very common in the horse suffering from equine metabolic syndrome. The primary characteristic of EMS is insulin resistance, now more commonly referred to as insulin dysregulation. In IR/Insulin Resistance in horses, the cells are unable to properly utilize the insulin. Horses will often rub their manes as a result of the irritation. Insulin resistance (IR) is defined as reduced sensitivity to insulin that results in increased insulin release and/or decreased activity of insulin, such as glucose entry into cells, inhibition of glucose production in the liver, and mobilization of fat. Mostly, horse people associate it with “hard, cresty necks,” fat deposits on the rump and shoulders, excess weight, Cushing’s syndrome, and the threat of a laminitic episode. Insulin resistance Insulin resistance (IR) is becoming increasingly common in our equestrian population but is often overlooked by owners. Some IR symptoms to watch for include: Skin tags. Breed – Ponies tend to have higher degrees of insulin resistance than Warmbloods or Standardbreds. EMS is a problem in both horses and humans. Yes, they do share a lot of symptoms but the main difference is that EMS affects a horse’s ability to produce insulin (which is why it sometimes referred to as an insulin-resistant condition) whereas Equine Cushing’s Disease only affects the pituitary gland. Insulin resistance can decrease nitric oxide production and promote vasoconstriction. In addition, mosquitoes tend to be drawn to horses with Insulin Resistance, possibly due to the fact that their blood tastes sweeter and their immune systems are weaker. If you suspect Cushings, always test the Insulin at the same time. Horses with EMS become less sensitive to insulin’s effects, and more insulin than normally required is needed to keep blood sugar concentrations within normal limits, especially after … So the glucose turns into stored fat instead of providing energy for the cells. Why we are seeing IR in horses in epidemic numbers. Research is showing that Cushings may be occurring earlier and earlier in horses due to high Insulin damaging Pituitary cells. Insulin Resistance and Cushing’s Disease in horses are metabolic and hormonal disorders that should be closely managed by diet and supplementation. Insulin resistance is a disturbance of glucose metabolism that can be thought of as an early form of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This condition can quickly lead to laminitis, if left untreated, and… Read More »Insulin Resistance [xi] Getty, J.M. Insulin regulates sugar (glucose) in the horses blood; for some reason, horses that have insulin resistance become less sensitive to insulins effects. Insulin resistance. The most obvious symptoms of Insulin Resistance in horses are hardened and thickened manes, often combined with wrinkles. EQUINE METABOLIC SYNDROME: CAUSES, SIGNS, TREATMENT AND PREVENTION Adapted from the My Horse University Horse Nutrition online course. The cells then become less sensitive to the actions of insulin and absorb less energy. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 43 (3), S61-S65. Tubing the horse with glucose to measure the insulin response or giving intravenous infusions of glucose and insulin are two possible procedures but do carry some risk of inducing laminitis in a sensitive horse. In order to ensure the longevity and performance of your horse, understanding the similarities and differences between both of these disorders can help with choosing the best treatment options so that your horse can feel more comfortable and happy. Equine insulin Resistance can cause several symptoms such as unusual fat deposits, excessive drinking and urinating, loss of muscle mass and laminitis. Insulin Resistance (IR) is a commonly used and poorly understood term. Experimentally, high blood insulin levels lead to laminitis in horses and ponies. The symptoms seen in horses with Metabolic syndrome range from mild to severe and can begin as early as seven years of age. Cushings is very common in middle-aged to older horses (18-23 years), and it causes great discomfort for them. For more info on this, visit the Equine Insulin Resistance & Equine Hypothyroidism page. Age – Old horses (>20 years) seem to be more prone to insulin resistance. Diabetes in horses is also called “insulin resistance.” For a long time, it was thought that horses couldn’t contract “diabetes,” and that they could only develop Cushing’s disease. Chasteberry has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in some horses with insulin resistance, a common contributing factor to laminitis. Equine Insulin Resistance, Equine Hypothyroidism. Uncompensated insulin resistance refers to pancreatic exhaustion, whereby the pancreas is no longer able to produce enough insulin and glucose control is poor; that is, type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance plays a significant role in aberrant carbohydrate metabolism, which manifests itself in a variety of disorders including Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), Laminitis, and Equine Cushing’s Disease (PPID). Insulin resistance occurs when excess sugar circulates in the body. This article elaborates on effects and treatment of insulin resistance for equine pets. Although the increase in levels of these two hormones is due to inflammatory changes on a cellular level, the rise in levels can contribute to various health problems in the horse. Insulin resistance is likely an early warning of additional metabolic related diseases, including colic and laminitis, and endocrine related problems such as Cushings. Insulin has vasoregulatory actions. Equine insulin resistance is now the #1 cause of laminitis in the world. EMS has some similar signs to Equine Cushings Disease, but it is a different disease with different underlying causes. Cushing's disease, a condition common in older horses, occurs when a tumor has grown in the pituitary gland in the brain and puts out large amounts of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Management of the condition is primarily aimed at modifying the affected horse's diet, maintaining a healthy body condition score, and instituting a regular exercise program. Laminitis is a disease that affects the hooves of the horse, causing inflammation and lameness. For many people, insulin resistance often doesn’t trigger any noticeable symptoms, especially in the early phases. Insulin resistance therefore promotes weight gain.Obesity leads to insulin resistance We also know that obesity can cause insulin resistance. In addition to observing the symptoms listed above, early insulin resistance can be diagnosed with specialized blood tests. The best treatment for Cushings in horses involves an approach that includes managing the symptoms and hormonal imbalances associated with it. New studies, from the Universities of Kentucky and Virginia, suggest that half of the horse population is overweight and insulin resistance is a probable, normal event in geriatric horses. The inflammation and weak hooves that are associated with laminitis is painful for horses. Recognizing Early Signs. Can Horses Get Diabetes: Insulin Resistance in Horses. At this point we have too little information to confirm that the disease occurs in lean horses, but research might find otherwise in the future. In some people, the cells do not respond to insulin properly, and this condition known as insulin resistance symptoms. Many horses suffering with Laminitis have elevated insulin levels in their blood because it can’t penetrate the cell walls. Symptoms of Insulin Resistance. A potential link between insulin resistance and iron overload disorder in browsing rhinoceroses investigated through the use of an equine model. If the horse is diagnosed at an early stage, it can allow the attending veterinarian to take preventative measures rather than treatment measures in the care of the horse. Breeds that are prone to developing cresty necks and obesity, such as Morgans and some lines of Arabians, Quarter horses, may be more likely to develop insulin resistance. With proper care, these horses … Horses in their late teens and those more than twenty years old can exhibit many of the "classic" signs of what has been called Cushing's disease, including obesity, long hair, increased urination and drinking, muscle wasting and difficult-to-treat laminitis. Insulin resistance in fat cells reduces the effect of insulin and lead to increased triglyceride hydrolysis reserves, if no steps are good for increasing insulin sensitivity or by providing extra insulin. This syndrome is currently defined by the presence of 1) insulin resistance (IR), 2) obesity and/or regional adiposity, and 3) prior or current laminitis. This means that more insulin than would normally be required is needed to keep blood sugar concentrations within normal amounts, especially after a meal high in starch and/or sugar. The horse Insulin hormone is the key hormone to get tested, but if you are concerned enough to test, also check the Glucose, total T4 and the ACTH (if suspect Cushings). For those of you new to Equine Challenge Supplements, we have a specific protocol for IR horses or for horses that are overweight (easy keepers). Altered glucose and insulin levels may also lead to altered epidermal cell function and glucose uptake by epidermal laminar cells. Causes and Signs Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is also called Peripheral Cushing's Disease or insulin resistance. Horse owners in recent years have been introduced and marketed to more and more commercial foods which typically contain a great deal of byproduct waste. Care and attention is a vital part while nurturing a pet animal. By Joseph Thomas, PhD. Insulin resistance alone can be identified through a simple blood test performed after at least six hours of fasting. If after reading this you recognise any of the symptoms in your own horse, we highly recommend you speak to your vet as a priority. Resting insulin values also tend to be higher in ponies compared to horses but we need more data before it will be possible to derive different cutoffs for diagnosis of insulin resistance. Chasteberry … Too much iron can be detrimental to the insulin resistant horse. Printed in: Natural Horse Volume 8, Issue 5 . Overfeeding a horse to the point it becomes obese can also result in insulin resistance, although not all fat horses are insulin resistant. Insulin resistance has profound consequences for affected horses, yet there are currently no licensed treatment options. Insulin resistance syndrome includes a group of problems like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. It could affect as many as 1 in 3 Americans. Contributing factor to laminitis resistant for years without knowing, especially in the phases. 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