Laminitis, PPID: The Science of Seasons Behind Them

Research groups reported their findings of the impact of seasonal variations for pituitary glad dysfunction.

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Are horses susceptible to meterological manipulation? Not exactly, but two research groups reported their findings of the impact of seasonal variations on horses: one on laminitic ponies and the other on diagnostic test results for pituitary gland dysfunction in adult horses. They presented these reports at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Forum, held June 4-7 in San Antonio, Texas.

In the research abstract, "Seasonal change in energy metabolism of ponies coincide with changes in pasture carbodyhdrates: implications for laminitis" Kibby Treiber, PhD, and colleagues from Virginia Tech evaluated potential seasonal interactions with laminitis in grazing ponies by measuring pasture carbohydrates and various metabolic parameters in pastured ponies.

Nine of the 30 ponies developed laminitis during the study. Compared to non-laminitic ponies, the researchers observed significantly higher insulin and triglyceride levels in the laminitic ponies. In addition, all ponies had the highest glucose and insulin levels in the spring whereas triglyceride and non-esterified fatty acids (two types of fats) were lowest at this time of year.

"Normal ponies may ‘crossover’ metabolically and switch from using fat as an energy source in the winter to the carbohydrates found in spring pasture. Ponies at an increased risk for laminitis and insulin resistance may be less able to ‘crossover’ and therefore cannot cope with carbohydrate levels in spring pasture," explained Treiber. "This can result in the development of laminitis in insulin resistant ponies

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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