Using Nutrition to Manage Obesity

Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue. It’s a health issue. Learn how to modify your horse’s diet to help him slim down.

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Sure, the roly poly pony doing his best Hoover vacuum imitation in that giant grassy pasture might look cute, but he’s one of the growing number of equids at risk of serious health problems due to obesity. Fortunately, his owners can take simple steps to help reduce both his waistline and his likelihood of developing potentially life-threatening conditions.

Kara Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition), a licensed veterinary technician from Wamego, Kansas, reviewed how to use nutrition to manage obesity in horses at the 2015 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, held in June in Indianapolis.

“Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue,” Burns stressed. “It is a health issue.”

Not only has it been linked to insulin resistance development, but it can also increase horses’ risk of developing laminitis, developmental orthopedic disease (in young animals), osteoarthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions, she said

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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