Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hoofcare & Lameness Presents World Horse Welfare's Laminitis Video Conference (Part 4: Measuring Invisble Body Fat Using Ultrasound to Accurately Determine Body Condition)

Welcome to the fourth in a series of feature presentations designed to help horse owners recognize the signs of laminitis in horses and to work toward preventing endocrine-related laminitis. In this video, laminitis researcher Alex Dugdale, currently at the University of Liverpool's Leverhulme Equine Hospital in Great Britain, talks about the subtleties and shortcomings of traditional body condition scoring.

For years, a simple visual evaluation of a horse has been used to determine a horse's relative body score, and this in turn was sufficient for a veterinarian to tell an owner if the horse might be at risk for laminitis and should be put on a weight management program and avoid excess grazing at high risk times.

But Dugdale is muddying that field considerably by suggesting that horses can appear to be slim--thus earning a mid-range or acceptable body score--but have large amounts of interior belly fat that may be making them susceptible to insulin resistance and, by extension, the potential complication of laminitis. Fat tissue can act almost like a gland in the way that it programs the body's reaction to nutritional stimuli, and reacts in particular to fluctuations of sugar-type nutrients in grasses and feed.

Simply put, some horses and ponies are just plain fat, while others show areas of fat in specific areas of their bodies that researchers have come to associate with a suspicion of equine metabolic syndrome. Now Dugdale is taking that regional adiposity a step further to include invisible fat.

Dugdale suggests using an ultrasound probe to scan a horse's belly lining  to see what sort of fat stores are laid down there. Unfortunately, the scan is not recorded on the video because of lighting problems, so this video is a bit incomplete.

To learn more about laminitis prevention: Watch Part 1 of the series, "The Horse's Foot and How It Goes Wrong" and then go on to Part 2, "Recognizing the Early Signs of Laminitis” and Part 3, Hoof Management and Pain Relief. This series was created by World Horse Welfare, a British charity that organized a series of horse owner conferences on laminitis with the support of Dodson and Horrell, a British feed company that is active in laminitis research.

More information about how to access body condition around the horse's girth is available in this article about laminitis prevention for horse owners on The Jurga Report.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.
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