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Equine Metablic Syndrome

Equine metabolic syndrome also known as “EMS” is an endocrine disorder which involves insulin dysregulation. Abnormal fat deposits over the neck crest, shoulders, and tail base are hallmark clinical signs of EMS, these fat deposits release hormones that affect the body’s ability to recognize insulin leading to insulin insensitivity. The body responds by releasing excessive insulin and the body’s blood glucose (sugar) concentration remains elevated as well, this is like type 2 diabetes in humans. Abnormal metabolism paired with obesity leads to chronic inflammation which predisposes EMS horses to laminitis. Laminae which connect the hoof capsule to the underlying bone breaks down over time allowing the bone to rotate within the hoof wall which leads to chronic lameness and in severe enough cases humane euthanasia is elected.


Predisposing factors include obesity, lack of exercise, high sugar intake diets, and breed predispositions of miniature horses, donkeys, ponies, warmbloods, and other breeds known as ‘easy keepers.’


Diagnosis of EMS involves blood work to test the body’s blood glucose levels and insulin levels, high insulin levels paired with high glucose levels are diagnostic as well as clinical signs and symptoms for EMS. Treatment revolves around management changes which promotes weight loss through low sugar diets, reduced caloric intake, increased daily exercise and sometimes in severe enough cases your veterinarian may suggest medications to promote weight loss.


Jigs & Co. Haytime automatic hay feeder can aid in treatment by allowing multiple small feedings throughout the day so that your horse does not experience stress or prolonged periods of time without hay. This allows for reduced caloric intake while preventing long periods of time without feed which can be harmful and predispose your horse to other harmful conditions such as gastric ulcers. Haytime should be considered to help aid in management changes your horse needs when treating EMS.

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