Well it is spring time today in Columbus Ohio. I had the windows down while making my farm calls today saw lots of horses and put lots of miles on the truck today. I drove from Millersport to Logan to Lancaster to Utica back to Johnstown and than back to Pickerington. Makes for a long day but very fun. I am writing this blog after having to mow my lawn again because of all the rainfall we have had in Central Ohio over the past week. So I thought I this would be a good time to talk about spring time grass grow and how it can hurt our four legged friends. It is well known that spring grasses may cause laminitis (Founder is an older term that has been replaced with laminitis). Studies have shown that spring grasses are high in starch and sugars which may lead to high blood sugar levels that may then cause hyperinsulinemia and laminitis.
So, how do we prevent our friends from developing this horrible condition?
First we start by allowing the horses to slowly adapt to the spring grass. Feed the horses hay before turning them out so their stomachs are already filled before going out to pasture. This way horses are less likely to gorge themselves on the new spring grass.
(It is like candy to them!)
Finally, horses need to be limited in turn out time. Allot only 10 minutes once or twice daily, and then slowly increase their time on the spring grass by 5 minutes a day until the horses have a tolerance of 6 hours.
Any horse with a history of laminitis or metabolic issue (Cushings, metabolic syndrome, hypothyroidism) needs to have a more conservative turnout regimen. In some cases these horses won’t be able to eat fresh grass and will have to be feed hay on a dirt lot all summer long or use a grazing muzzle. You can buy them on line and usually will need two a three a season.
At Freeder Creek Equine Veterinary Services we offer blood testing to help diagnosis of these metabolic syndromes and provide recommendation for treatment. You will need to fast your horse overnight (last hay at 10pm) and in the early AM before anybody in the barn is feed we will get a sample of blood and run a fasting Insulin Level and an ACTH level. We only use the Cornell University Diagnostic Laboratory for the best results. These two test are just screening test and in our next blog we will talk about follow up testing if these results are not 100% diagnostic of the condition.
Dr. Jonathan A. Yardley