Performance Mini Health Issues
Hepatic lipidosis In Performance Minis
Special concern should be paid to miniature horses in stressful situations like intense competition were loss of appetite and depression can occur.
Hepatic lipidosis is a type of liver failure that is caused by rapid mobilization of fat stores in a horse that is not eating.
While this is rare disease in full-sized horses, Miniature horses, miniature donkeys and ponies, are prone to this abnormality.
Uncontrolled hyperlipemia leads to hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease).
The liver takes up the fat from the blood.When the processing of the fat cannot keep up with the amount of fat that is delivered, the fat is stored throughout the tissue of the liver.
The fat infiltration interferes with the normal liver function leading to failure or rupture of the liver.
The signs are loss of appetite, diarrhea, weakness, depression, mild colic, jaundice, fever and swelling of the lower abdomen and legs frequently occur. In the most severe cases, changes in mental awareness ranging from mild confusion to uncontrolled behavior and coma may develop due to metabolic toxins that are normally processed and eliminated in the liver reaching the brain. Blood work can be used to diagnose hepatic lipidosis by the presence of hyperlipemia and elevated liver enzymes.
Treatment of hepatic lipidosis is intravenous nutrition. In addition the veterinarian may choose to administer insulin, which slows the release of fat from the body cells. Heparin a drug used to decrease the clotting ability of the blood is also sometimes used as a fat removal from the blood. In hepatic lipidosis the predisposing cause must be treated or eliminated.
The prognosis of hepatic lipidosis is poor. Mortality rates have been estimated to be 60-100% with this disease. The best chance for survival is when treatment is initiated at the first signs of hyperlipemia, before liver damage occurs.
Prevention of this disease is of critical importance because of the poor response to treatment.
- All horses should be on a diet that provides adequate nutrition, but does not induce obesity.
- Extreme stress should be avoided whenever possible, and horses that must be placed in a stressful situation should be closely monitored for depression or loss of appetite. Examples of stress-inducing situations include transportation, intense competition, late gestation, early lactation and weaning.
- Any sickness or loss appetite must be addressed immediately. The cause of anorexia should be determined and treated. Every effort should be made to find a food that the horse will eat.
- Blood work should be performed on sick anorexia horses to monitor fat levels in the blood.
- Treatment should be initiated at the first the first signs of hyperlipemia.
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