The Symptoms of Diabetes in Horses

Written by katrin savage
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The Symptoms of Diabetes in Horses
Horses can get diabetes. (horse image by Wojciech Karpinski from

Although most people are aware that humans struggle with diabetes, many do not know that it is somewhat a common problem in horses as well. Horses suffering from diabetes show a variety of warning signs that owners need to look for. If you notice your horse displaying these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

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Excessive Thirst and Urination

One of the first signs that there is something wrong with a horse is excessive thirst and urination. Horses, depending on the weather and their activity, can drink between eight and 10 gallons of water per day; you should know your horse's normal water intake so you can tell that from unusual, excessive thirst and urination.

Horse drinking
Horse drinking (paint drinking water image by Photoeyes from


Horses that remain overweight even after their feed is reduced may have diabetes. If you see that your horse is struggling to lose excess pounds even though it is eating less and getting regular exercise, it may be time to call the vet.

Excess Fat Deposits

Excess fat deposits in a horse's crest, back and rump may be a sign of diabetes. These fat deposits result when the horse cannot properly use up glucose. When brushing your horse, regularly look for changes and excess fat deposits.

Reduced Energy Levels

Horses suffering from diabetes often have reduced levels of energy. Owners may notice that it takes greater effort to get the horse to work or exercise.

Skin Conditions

Diabetic horses often have a higher risk of suffering from different skin conditions, such as rain rot and pasture scald. The disease may also make it take longer for these skin conditions to heal.

Recurrent Laminitis

One of the most serious problems in diabetic horses is recurrent laminitis, or inflammation in the hoof. According to the Horse Health Care website, the research of Dr. C.C. Pollitt of the Veterinary School at the University of Queensland suggests that recurring laminitis is linked to an altered glucose metabolism in sensitive cells in a horse's hoof.

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