By: Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD
Sugar phobia has reached a point where virtually any problem with a horse’s hooves may be blamed on sugar. From thrush to weak laminar connections, sugar is blamed. This often comes with stories of how horses have improved once the diet was changed. However, sugar is rarely the culprit here. Many different problems cause quality issues in hooves but most have nothing to do with sugar.
“Sugar” in the diet comes from things both high in simple sugars, like molasses, and foods high in starch. Because the horse’s body digests starch to the sugar glucose in the intestinal tract, that is what gets absorbed into the blood. Sugar is as essential to the life of plants as it is to animals so everything has it but in varying amounts.
The sugar-hoof connection is via insulin. Sugar causes insulin release to varying extents depending on the individual. Sustained exaggerated insulin responses (hyperinsulinemia) lead to overt laminitis or a smoldering condition where laminar connections are weak and stretched. This scenario is a genuine connection between sugar/starch and hoof health but it only applies to the 10 – 12% of the equine population that actually has those exaggerated insulin responses.
If the horse has normal insulin testing, it’s not sugar causing the problems.
Other possible factors include:
To learn more, join the ECIR Group, August 13-15, for the 2021 NO Laminitis! Conference, via Zoom, which continues the mission to serve the scientific community, practicing clinicians, and owners by focusing on investigations most likely to quickly, immediately, and significantly benefit the welfare of the horse. www.nolaminitis.org
About ECIR Group Inc.
Started in 1999, the ECIR Group is the largest field-trial database for PPID and EMS in the world and provides the latest research, diagnosis, and treatment information, in addition to dietary recommendations for horses with these conditions. Even universities do not and cannot compile and follow long term as many in-depth case histories of PPID/EMS horses as the ECIR Group.
In 2013 the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance Group Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation, was approved as a 501(c)3 public charity. Tax deductible contributions and grants support ongoing research, education, and awareness of Equine Cushing’s Disease/PPID and EMS.
THE MISSION of the ECIR Group Inc. is to improve the welfare of equines with metabolic disorders via a unique interface between basic research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal. The ECIR Group serves the scientific community, practicing clinicians, and owners by focusing on investigations most likely to quickly, immediately, and significantly benefit the welfare of the horse.