What Does It Mean When a Horse Is Insulin Resistant?

Insulin moves glucose from the blood into muscle and other tissue, but sometimes the process doesn’t go smoothly.

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Overweight Horse in Pasture
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Dianne McFarlane, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, said insulin resistance occurs when the body doesn’t respond appropriately to insulin. Insulin’s job is to trigger events that facilitate the uptake of glucose out of the blood and into the muscle and other tissue. When a horse is insulin resistant, his body still releases insulin, but it does not function properly at the cellular level. Therefore, the glucose remains elevated in the blood. In some cases, the pancreas creates too much insulin, causing insulin dysregulation.

This podcast is an excerpt of our Ask The Horse Live podcast, ‘Understanding Equine Insulin Resistance.’ Listen to the full recording here.

About the Experts:

Dianne McFarlane

Dr. Dianne McFarlaneDianne McFarlane, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, is a professor and chair of the University of Florida’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, in Gainesville. She has studied equine aging and age-related diseases for more than 20 years. She is most recognized for her work in equine endocrine diseases, including pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction and equine metabolic syndrome. McFarlane received her DVM from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. She then completed a large animal internship at the University of Georgia, followed by a residency in equine internal medicine at North Carolina State University. McFarlane completed her PhD at the Atlantic Veterinary College, on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where she investigated the cause of equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction.


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