Older Horses Doing Poorly Could Have Diabetes

Historically a rare disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus should be considered an important differential diagnosis in mature or elderly horses and ponies with weight loss and excessive drinking and urinating.
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Historically a rare disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus should be considered an important differential diagnosis in mature or elderly horses and ponies with weight loss and excessive drinking and urinating, advised a team of veterinarians led by Andy Durham, BSc, BVSc, CertEP, DEIM, Dipl. ECEIM, MRCVS. The team consisted of vets from England, Ireland, and the U.S.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic elevation of blood glucose (sugar) levels. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, usually maintains blood-sugar levels within very tight limits. Diabetes results due to defects in insulin secretion, action, or both.

According to Durham et al., type 2 DM (T2DM) results from a gradual onset of insulin resistance and pancreatic β cell failure (i.e., inability to produce insulin) that is only rarely diagnosed in equine practice.

Considering the recent increased awareness of insulin resistance and equine metabolic syndrome in horses, the veterinarians hypothesized that T2DM might be more common than currently speculated

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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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