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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Re: Preventing laminitis

Hello Judy,

In my opinion, unless a horse is truly hypothyroid (which is extremely rare), administering thyroxine is not only not needed, but potentially damaging.

I know that many veterinarians do this, with excellent intentions, to prevent the horse from experiencing laminitis. And I can certainly understand that. But, it often doesn't work, and furthermore, it turns off the thyroid gland. Long term usage can irreparably damage the thyroid gland. So I am glad you are only using it for the short term.

Exercise is the most critical and important component for your minis. Exercise not only burns calories, helping with fat loss. It also builds muscle, which is metabolically more active than fat. And, finally, and most importantly, exercise increases insulin sensitivity (decreases insulin resistance).

You ask about supplementation. Yes, there is an excellent formulation for insulin resistant horses called Carb X that contains magnesium and chromium, plus lipoic acid and gymnema sylvestri -- all of which have been shown to reduce circulating insulin levels.

A word of caution about a grazing muzzle. If it causes frustration, you will create a hormonal response that will keep fat deposits on your mini and increase laminitis risk. Frustration (or any stress) causes cortisol to rise. Cortisol causes insulin to rise. Elevated insulin leads to fat storage. And, elevated insulin leads to laminitis. So, if your horse is fine with the muzzle -- it is okay for two or three hours, max. If he spends all day trying to get it off, you are feeding the problem.

Keep me posted.

All the best,

Dr. Getty
Author of Feed Your Horse Like A Horse

Judy Brandt
My mini is 75lbs overweight according to my vet. He is showing no signs of lameness, he has a cresty neck and some fat pockets, he is out on a "track" with free feed hay with two other horses. He has 30 minutes on pasture and I have a grazing muzzle on order. We have increased his exercise to 30 min. a day and the vet has put him on levothyroxine to increase his metabolism short term. No testing has been done. What is your opinion of using levothyroxine? Are there any natural supplements that could do the same thing? Thank you so much for your opinion.

Where are you from? Waverly, Ohio