For owners of laminitic horses with the insulin form of the disease, keeping the horse’s blood sugar from spiking is the key to trying to turn the disease around and preventing future bouts. Excess blood sugar leads to excess insulin in the blood, which appears to bind to the wrong receptors in the horse’s feet and cause abnormal hoof growth, resulting in laminitis, according to research by Dr. Chris Pollitt and his team in Australia.
I have found two quality sources that are recommending putting ground flax seed in the horse’s meals as a source of fat.
One is Dr. Madalyn Ward, DVM, of Bear Creek Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas. She says that feeding fat to an overweight horse may seem counterintuitive, but it curbs the horse’s appetite and slows the release of glucose. She recommends ground flax seed, rice bran or cold-processed vegetable oil on her website.
Dr. Frank Reilly at Equine Medical & Surgical Associates in Pennsylvania also proposes using ground flax seed, and he used to provide instructions on how to do so on his website.
Owners should feed 1/4 cup, or 4 tablespoons, of ground flax seeds, not flax seed oil or whole seeds. Whole seeds go right through the horse. The seeds must be ground.
Reilly says they can be ground in a small electric coffee grinder, available for $15 at big discount stores. I couldn’t find a coffee grinder at my local Walmart, but I did see a basic one for about $13 on Amazon, and several reviewers said it was the perfect size if all you want to do is grind up flax seeds.
Reilly also says to buy whole flax seed, not preground flax seed, since shelf-life is an issue. Whole flax seed keeps in an airtight container for a year, whereas ground flax seed keeps for only 90 days.
He suggests avoiding flax seed products made for horses due to the shelf life issue, as well. If the flax seed is ground, and you don’t know when, the product may expire before you even buy it.
He says flax seed offers fiber, antioxidants, protein and the essential fatty acids of Omega 3 and Omega 6, which can help decrease inflammatory responses and the need for medications in a horse.
Plus, one tablespoon of ground flax seed is only 36 calories.
Dr. Mehmet Oz covered this topic Feb. 27, 2012, debunking the myth the fat is bad.
He also suggested adding cold-pressed oil in the form of rice bran oil. It’s loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the good fat that a body needs to lose weight. He introduced the oil by saying, “Could this be the miracle fat that makes you get skinny?”
Oz said the rice bran oil contains gamma oryzanol, a plant phytochemical that “convinces our cells to burn up the sugar that’s going on in our bloodstream so that sugar doesn’t hang out in our bloodstream and get deposited on our hips or on our belly.” It also has Omega 6 fatty acids.
He suggested that, one day, it may become the standard cooking oil in people’s kitchens. Look for it at health food stores for about $8, he said.