Feeding a laminitic this spring?
Spring is certainly here! This week brings warmer weather and some light showers for most of the UK – ideal weather for the grass to start coming through at an alarming rate. If you have a good doer – act now to prevent weight gain and further health complications as a result, such as laminitis.
Overweight horses and ponies are a common sight in the UK these days. Excess weight brings risk factors for potentially fatal health conditions such as laminitis, so it is essential to manage your horse’s weight to keep these health risks as low as possible. Regular is exercise is important, but a low sugar diet is essential. Increased levels of sugar entering the bloodstream from both the foregut and the hindgut can trigger diet induced laminitis, through temporarily raised insulin levels in the blood relative to the levels of glucose (hyperinsulinemia). If your horse or pony is prone to lamintis, now is the time to start monitoring their weight and using measures such as restricted grazing, increasing exercise or using a muzzle to reduce grass intake.
The horse’s diet must predominantly be forage and whilst grass may need to be restricted due to the high sugar content, especially at this time of year, alternative forage should be provided such as soaked hay or a low calorie forage replacer. Any additional feed should be low in sugar, so avoid highly molassed feed and cereal grains. Grains contain starch in the form of carbohydrates, which are broken down to simple sugars in the digestive tract. Most sugar is digested in the small intestine, but excessive sugars in the diet may reach the hindgut which can cause a gastrointestinal disturbance and precipitate laminitis.
Honeychop’s Lite & Healthy has been formulated to be suitable for all horses and ponies, but the very low sugar and starch content make it ideal for those on a restricted diet, including those prone to laminitis.
The main ingredients in Lite & Healthy are Oat straw and Timothy grass. Straw is a good example of a forage which contains filler fibre, as the horse uses nearly as many calories digesting it as they get from eating it. This is because it contains some of the fibre called lignin in its cell walls, which the bacteria in the horse’s hind gut struggle to digest. Timothy grass is blended with the oat straw as it is similarly an excellent choice for good doers and those prone to laminitis as it is lower in sugar than most other grasses. In addition, Lite & Healthy contains herbs with natural antioxidant properties as well as supporting metabolism and circulation.