Metformin for horses

ihatework

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I'm battling with a 7yo who has had all sorts of niggly performance problems since a 5yo. I finally have an explanation for what I was beginning to think was hyperchondria!

He had an ACTH level of 150, has started prascend and has come back into work after 9 months off. He is struggling a bit on his front feet but its a case of needing to exercise to help shift some weight.

He hasn't had all the insulin resistant testing done but the vet that has been handling all this (usual practise, but not my regular vet who is senior partner) says she would lay money he is insulin resistant too, but that metformin is a waste of money in horses as its excreted quickly and probably only active in the body for about 60 mins.

Does anyone use metformin and has it made any noticeable difference?
 

WandaMare

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I am really surprised your vet said Metformin is useless for horses. I have heard only good things about it. It has made a huge difference to my lami pony, it was the only thing which stopped his laminitis after trying desperately to manage it by diet.
 

ihatework

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I'm very aware of the complexities around managing this type of horse. But I'm specifically looking for experience using metformin. There are certainly 2 schools of thought in the veterinary world surrounding this.
 

glenruby

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Research says metformin isn't very effective in horses. For that reason it is often only used in very serious laminitis bouts or where management changes have failed. I have seen first hand the decr if carefully restricting diet and increasing exercise - even in horses not overweight. Reductions from readings of 600-800 down to 20-30 levels.
 

WandaMare

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This is interesting but a very small sample. My vet recommended using it as we were running out of options. Pony was already on minimal portions of soaked hay, all the recommended supplements, no grazing, turned out on wood chip surface etc. etc and exercised. His condition was also poor and I felt overall it wasn't fair feeding him such small daily rations in terms of his quality of life.
I read on here some good reports of Metformin and my vet also reported using it with success so I decided to try it starting Oct 2011. Since then his condition has improved because I have been able to increase his daily forage rations and he hasn't actually had a serious bout of laminitis since he has been on the drug. I have reduced the dose considerably as his feet are now healthy enough to increase his daily exercise. It might not work in all cases but for whatever reason it's worked a treat for my boy.
 

ihatework

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There certainly seems to be anecdotal evidence that some horses have been managed better when adding metformin onto an already controlled management program whereby management alone has failed. There are some strictly controlled, non real life, studies that do support potential efficacy. Then again there are studies that show no statistical significance, like the one above, although that has a sample size of 6 ....

I'd be interested in interrogating my vet (don't worry, they are used to me!) about high dose XR type formulation
 

Wagtail

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My mare has been on it now for 9 months. I am not sure if it has helped the laminitis, but it has certainly helped the weight loss and her fat pads have completely gone including those around her eyes.
 

llwynan

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hi ive got a 4 year old sec A just been put on metformin, hes only been on it for 5 days but since then his sheath has swollen? phoned vet he says it has nothing to do with the meds? ive checked him over for bits and cleaned it but its so swollen > any advice please
 

llwynan

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hi thanks pinklilly going to ring vet tomorrow, somethin just not right , he lets me tough it and as i said i clean it tonight so hes not sore but ive never seen him swollen,
 

llwynan

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i wouldnt mind this is only happened since the yard i was on fertilised the paddock but with out telling me and put the horses back on it that night ... ive moved now been at new yard 4 weeks and within this time sore hooves? hard neck so all the signs are there , just not happy at all.
 
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Metformin saved my Mums horses life!

Last summer after a few years of niggling problems he had a bad bout of Laminitis which resulted in us finding out he had EMS which explained so much.. with lots of box rest and remedial farriery after a trip to Liphook for the attack he was put on Metformin.. it helped massively.. we shifted so much weight from him with a restricted diet and regime and the Metformin was crucial. He was eventually weaned off of it when he reached the desired weight and is now fully controlled with feeding and exercise and touch wood he is doing well..
 
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My pony is on Metformin. She has Cushing's and is insulin resistant. The Metformin works well for her as it brings her insulin levels down. Then she comes off it. She also has magnesium oxide which helps too. She has one Prascend daily for the Cushing's. We seem to be on top of it all that way.
 

EstherYoung

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It has made a huge difference to our chronic laminitic. It hasn't cured him, but it has just made him that bit more tolerant to life, meaning that changes in weather, well meaning neighbours feeding him an apple, or the little sod escaping into next door's field no longer tips him over the edge.

It isn't very well absorbed by horses at all so the dosage is much higher per kg of pony than it would be for a human.
 

Downton Dame

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Metformin saved my Mums horses life!

Last summer after a few years of niggling problems he had a bad bout of Laminitis which resulted in us finding out he had EMS which explained so much.. with lots of box rest and remedial farriery after a trip to Liphook for the attack he was put on Metformin.. it helped massively.. we shifted so much weight from him with a restricted diet and regime and the Metformin was crucial. He was eventually weaned off of it when he reached the desired weight and is now fully controlled with feeding and exercise and touch wood he is doing well..
This is good to hear a success story.
 
Joined
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My horse has just been put on Metformin, but I'm having a job getting her to eat it. She wolfed her tea down the first time she had it, but is now looking at it and then at me as if to say "you must be joking"! If I leave it with her it does go down in the end as greed overcomes the taste, but I'd be a lot happier if I could see her eating it rather than just hoping. Any suggestions are very welcome please.
 
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Unfortunately it's normally quite a few tablets (!) so that won't work. I had to grind them down with a pestle & mortar then hide them in pink mash or fast fibre with spearmint to hide the taste. It did the job though (lost weight), even though the grinding was a bit of a PITA.
 
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Metformin is ghastly stuff that I had to syringe into my greedy cob after laminitis caused by ems. It kick started her weight loss along with eating only straw and antilam. It worked really well and she has now been normal with a normal glucose test for 3 years. I am glad she did not have to be on it for long but I was very strict with everything else. She is 22 now and I am still careful with her but she grazes with a mask on.
 
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Thanks for your suggestions. I'm off to buy some garlic to help disguise the taste (hopefully). I like the idea of a pestle and mortar. I'm sure I've got one hidden away in some kitchen drawer or other. At 17 tablets twice a day I need some help to grind them down. I really hope they work as well as they obviously did for riversideeu. Will keep you posted.
 

fusspot

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7 September 2011
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My boy used Metformin and vets got it in powder form which was also apple flavoured.He had 1 scoop twice a day-started on 1 1/5 twice a day.He generally ate it but did have days when he would turn his nose up-apparently it tastes like smelly old socks!
 
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