Dietary restriction in combination with a nutraceutical supplement for the management of equine metabolic syndrome in horses

C. M. McGowan*, A. H. Dugdale, G. L. Pinchbeck, C. Mc G. Argo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies have examined the effect of dietary restriction in horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). This study aimed to determine improvements in insulin sensitivity following dietary restriction for 6. weeks, and to determine if the improvement would be greater in horses receiving short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (sc-FOS). Dietary management involved feeding grass hay, restricted to 1.25% of body mass (BM) as daily dry matter intake and soaked in cold water prior to feeding, with the addition of a vitamin and mineral nutraceutical supplement with or without the addition of sc-FOS (10. g/100. kg).Soaking the hay resulted in a significant reduction in non-structural carbohydrates (38%, P= 0.01), digestible energy (6.78%, P= 0.01) and water soluble minerals. Following 6. weeks of dietary restriction with soaked grass hay and nutraceutical supplement, horses lost an average of 6.8% BM and showed reductions in body condition score (BCS) and belly circumference. Sensitivity to insulin improved overall, as determined by the total insulin response during the combined glucose insulin test. The magnitude of improvement in insulin sensitivity was associated with the degree of insulin resistance recorded at outset, and the extent of overall losses in BM and BCS, but was independent of the addition of sc-FOS. The nutraceutical supplement was highly palatable and no adverse effects were noted. From the findings of this study a strict dietary program in combination with a specifically designed vitamin and mineral nutraceutical supplement can be recommended to obtain rapid improvements in BM, BCS and insulin sensitivity of animals presenting with EMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-159
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Endocrine
  • Horse
  • Insulin
  • Metabolic
  • Nutrition


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