If you have a horse with Insulin Resistance (IR), Cushing’s, or Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), monitoring their sugar intake is essential. Sugars and other simple carbohydrates, referred to as Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC), can cause your horse’s blood glucose levels to spike, which, in turn, causes the body to produce insulin. However, horses with metabolic conditions cannot reuptake the insulin in the same way that other horses can. These prolonged high insulin levels can cause health concerns, such as Laminitis.
For this reason, it is necessary that you control your horse’s NSC intake and keep it as low as possible. There are many high-quality feeds, forages, and chopped hay for horses on the market that help horse owners maintain their horses’ body condition without feeding them high amounts of sugar or simple carbohydrates.
However, many horse owners do not consider the sugar content in the horse treats that they feed their horses. Horse treats can cause their horses’ blood sugar to spike, just like grain can. A diagnosis of IR does not mean that you can no longer feed your horse horse treats, but it does mean that you need to be more mindful about what you feed them.
If you have a horse with IR, EMS, Cushing’s, or another metabolic concern, here are the proper treats for insulin-resistant horses:
- Apple Peels
- Commerical Low Starch Treats
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chopped Low-NSC Forage
- Watermelon Rinds
- Molasses-Free Beet Pulp
- Sugar-Free Candies (Do not feed anything that contains Xylitol)
Any low-carb horse treats, low-sugar horse treats, and no-sugar horse treats are typically OK for IR animals. If the label includes the phrase “insulin-resistant horse treats,” or something similar, these are also suitable for an IR diet.
It is equally important to understand what your horse should not be given. If you have a horse with IR, EMS, Cushing’s, or another metabolic concern, you should avoid feeding them:
- Sugar Cubes
- Molasses-Based Treats
- Apple Sauce
- Peppermints and Other Candy
- Sugary Horse Treats
Feeding your metabolic horse can be a bit challenging, but it is important to take a well-rounded look at their entire diet when you are looking to control their NSC intake. Make sure that you are taking stock of everything that they consume, from their forage and pasture to their feed rations and their tasty horse treats. WIth proper education and planning, you can continue to supply the proper treats for insulin-resistant horses and show them exactly how much you love them.