The Importance of Correct Bloodwork for Insulin Resistance / Dysregulation

Date: May 7th, 2020

In order to accurately diagnose and monitor an Insulin Resistant (IR) horse, bloodwork must be completed - and it must be completed in the correct manner. Without specific blood tests, or with bloodwork taken inconsistently you cannot know if the diet, supplements or medications you are giving are working to the horses benefit. It is imperative to test both insulin and glucose; a full hematology profile or a full chemistry profile is not necessary to diagnose IR.

Previously, fasting (12 hours no food) bloodwork was used to diagnose. But, many cases are missed using this protocol. Glucose challenge (test before and after a high dose of glucose) testing is no longer recommended either, as it can push a horse into a laminitic episode. Many people still use this method- but it can put horses through an unnecessary amount of pain when there is another, safer and more effective way to test.

New research supports testing 3-4 hours after a meal. Non-IR horses will have little difference between fasting and after a meal. IR horses will have a dramatic spike for 1-4 hours after a meal, even if they are being fed appropriate low sugar & starch feed. This is a safe and conclusive testing protocol.

If having your horse tested; consistency is the key. Book your vet appointment and feed accordingly. For example, if you book for 9 am, feed at 6 or 7. Ensure that you follow this same timing every time you test. If something comes up and your vet will be delayed, reschedule. Your vet should understand the importance of accurate and consistent testing. A couple of hours variance does not help your vet or yourself determine if the diet or supplement changes you have made are working. In fact, it could cause enough variance in the results that they could cause a misdiagnosis. We encourage a variance of no more than 15 minutes between tests.

Bringing glucose and insulin within normal ranges will prevent laminitis. However, if laminitis is already present, it will not simply correct itself. Once damage is done to the laminae, a farrier with experience is essential to return your horse’s hoof integrity to a healthy state. This can take 9-12 months (the time to grow a full new hoof). Even once healed, a horse who has experienced laminitis will always need to be properly managed to keep insulin and glucose levels down.

If your horse is diagnosed with IR, it is very important that you have your hay tested for carbohydrates (Water soluble/WSC & Ethanol Soluble/ESC) and starch. We recommend wet chemistry (not NIR) testing at Equi Analytical in New York. Stay tuned for a new article explaining how to read and analyze your hay tests.

G’s WIRX is proven to reduce insulin & glucose levels dramatically, but if you are feeding a high sugar diet, it is counter-productive, and is not going to be as effective. With an appropriate diet and lifestyle, G’s WIRX can be used to maintain optimal health for your IR horse.