Diabetes in Horses - Symptoms??

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Diabetes in Horses - Symptoms??One of my boarders is insistent that one of her horses is diabetic. I've done some research and found this article

And based on this article, the ONLY sign that this horse might be diabetic is he's SLIGHTLY overweight. However, he does not get ridden often- it's winter where I am and they haven't ridden him since September. He's on a textured grain twice daily (he gets 1/2 scoop of a three qrt scoop twice a day) and is on either pasture (24/7) in the summer (10 acre field) or free choice timothy hay in the winter. In the summer he packs on the pounds a little bit (he's an easy keeper but by no means is he what I would call FAT- trust me I have 3 EASY keeper QH's, so I know FAT). And again, he doesn't get ridden too often in the summer either- I would say if it's averaged out he probably is ridden twice a month AT THE MOST.

So my question to you, has anyone dealt w/a diabetic horse? Are there other symptoms that this above article isn't mentioning? I have instructed my boarder to speak to the vet about this when he comes next month, as we are moving into Spring, but I want to have a little background on it before the vet comes, so that I can ask questions also.
@Luv my Nyx - He does not have excess fat deposits on him anywhere and he certainly does not have a reduced energy level. I would say he's a 6 on the body condition scoring chart. And he's on field board, he's the alpha horse in the field and he's with other horses that are worked regularly (2 of those horses are owned by his owners- he's just the reject of their herd for some reason, although I find him to be the nicest of the horses they own behavior wise), so not feeding him grain (or some sort of feed) is not an option.

My point was, I don't see any signs of diabetes other than his weight, however, since he's not worked regularly, he's going to be heavier than if he were worked regularly, so I feel that explains his weight more than diabetes. Does that make sense???
Helpful answer below

i was looking at a pony about a year ago, and she had a form of it it was called PSSM, and she could have no sugar at all, no apples, no carrots, no other fruits or veggies, no sugar cubes, no sugar mints, she wasn't able to be turned out in a grass paddock, she had to be turned out in the sand or dirt arenas and she was on a special grain that was $ 20 every time she needed it. . then there was another horse at my old barn she couldn't have sugar because if she had too much she foundered, so they had to give her very little or no sugar at all, she was on a no sugar diet, no apples, no carrots, no sugar candy. both of the horses could have sugar free candies though. hope this helps ♥

-Luv my Nyx
I was just at a feeding seminar in which they said that a horse that is only ridden occasionally should not have grain. Period. It is an energy feed and a horse that isn't ridden every day does not need grains of any kind. I have to agree.
If this horse is diabetic, grain is the last thing it should be eating.
I know A LOT of horses who are slightly over weight

From an article I found...

'Typically these are overweight horses that

It makes total sense :) people usually are just looking for excuses for their horse's condition because they don't wan to be responsible for it ... I've SO been there with some people I know..
maintain their weight despite reduced feeding on the part of
their owners. In fact, these horses often have excess fat
deposits in their crests, backs and rumps."

"Affected horses have reduced energy levels. They need exercise to
control their weight and metabolism but owners report that it is
often difficult to get these horses to work. Skin conditions are
common in these horses and simple cases of rain rot or pasture
scald seem to be more serious and to take longer to resolve.
Complications due to recurrent laminitis or founder, however,
seem to be the single biggest problem in insulin-resistant

"The first treatment for diabetics always involves diet and
exercise, and horses are no different. These horses should be fed
low grain diets to reduce the amount of starch and sugar. Good
quality hay is the basis of an insulin-resistant horse's feeding
plan. Additional energy, if needed, can be added in the form of
beet pulp or rice bran. "

"An exercise program should be initiated based on the particular
horse's condition and ability. Routine easy exercise on a regular
basis is much preferred to sporadic intense exercise. These
simple steps can improve glucose regulation and slow the
development of insulin resistance."

EDIT: it makes perfect sense. I have seen people make some odd excuses for their horse's condition. they just don't want to be responsible for it so they look for a "reason"....SO been there...

In horses it is classed as one of the metabolic syndromes and known as insulin resistance (IR) which resembles human type II diabetes, and it is very common in horses over the age of 7, with frequency increasing with advancing age. I have owned one diagnosed insulin resistant mare, a gelding diagnosed with Cushing's who also was insulin resistant, and believe that I've owned others in the past who were never diagnosed.

Any easy keeper over the age of 7 should be evaluated for IR. Obesity has now been shown to play a causative role in development of IR, and has long been related to proneness to laminitis. IR horses require extreme restriction of soluble starches in the diet, and fructans found in pasture grasses should also be avoided at all costs.

Not all IR horses are obese, but many obese horses are insulin resistant. IR can also be associated with Cushing's syndrome, so when a horse is evaluated for metabolic syndrome, typically along with measuring blood glucose levels, other hormone levels may be measured besides insulin, such as adrenocorticotropic hormone, cortisol, thyroid hormones, and so forth.

You can google equine insulin resistance and access many good veterinary articles on it. Here is one from TheHorse.com which is a reliable veterinary site. There are others on this site you can google........http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=17166

Add.....here is a whole listing of articles in TheHorse,com. If you aren't a member, it is free so all you have to do is sign up to access all of their articles, which i highly recommend.


That article pretty much covers it. feed wise if he is then He can be switched to low sugar foods, there are many out there. The vet will be able to advise on that. Yes it does make sense if he's not showing any other symptoms.

Gallop gave some really good information on insulin resistance in horses, which is similar to diabetes in humans.

However, it may very well be that the owners of this horse are seeing a problem in their horse where none exists. Having managed horse farms for many years, I've seen that sometimes owners will come up with bizarre diagnoses based on little evidence. Often the trigger is a family member or another horse they heard about who had the disease. Perhaps the horse's owners have a family member struggling with diabetes, so they see diabetes symptoms everywhere they look. Or perhaps they read an article on it. I used to have a boarder who was always searching the internet for horse health articles, and every time she read about a disease or disorder she'd come out to the barn the next day absolutely convinced that her horse had it. In one month she might become convinced that her horse had Lyme disease, EPM, EPSM, gastric ulcers, HYPP (even though the mare was a Thoroughbred), Cushings, and West Nile disease. I got to the point where I'd just say, "OK, whatever, but I'm not treating the horse for it until you talk to the vet and get him to write up a treatment plan." By the time she'd talk to the vet, she'd be convinced it was a completely new and different disease. She was crazy! But I've met boarders who when they go on a diet insist their horse needs more food. Or find some medical excuse for their own poor riding whenever they have a bad ride.

I'd let your boarder sort this out with the vet. Maybe the horse does have insulin resistance and maybe he doesn't, but sorting out this kind of thing is why the vet makes the big bucks ;-)

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