Thursday, June 10, 2010

You never stop learning

One of the things I love most about my job is the opportunity I have to interact with other nutritionists and to learn “what’s new” in animal nutrition. It is an ever-changing field, so you must stay current with the latest research. Today, I attended the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition’s Clinical Nutrition and Research Symposium in Anaheim, CA. This meeting was not just for horses, but for all companion animal species. It was my first time to ever attend, and what a great opportunity it was to hear what the “hot topics” are in small animal nutrition as compared to equine nutrition. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are many similarities, and I feel like I am taking some valuable information back home with me. For example, including soluble fiber in dog and cat diets is a big focus right now. The small animal nutritionists are using some alternative sources of fiber that to my knowledge no one is currently using in horse diets (so, is this a potential new ingredient for horse feed??). Also, there was a study in dogs that looked at feeding a probiotic supplement to reduce the incidence of diarrhea. The supplement used in the study had no effect on the frequency or incidence of diarrhea and may actually have had a negative impact on fecal consistency (so, do we need to be more careful about feeding probiotics to horses??).

There were a few horse-specific presentations, and they all somehow related to glucose/insulin regulation in the horse. There was some good evidence to support the recommendation I always give to owners with insulin resistant (IR) horses – “you MUST limit pasture intake”. It is well-documented that grass pasture can induce a significant spike in insulin levels that would not be good for a horse with IR. Luckily, most horses can tolerate pasture grass with no problems. However, we now know that there is a population of susceptible horses out there that we must monitor pasture intake to prevent pasture-associated laminitis and other related health concerns.

I find these types of meetings to be highly educational and very beneficial, as keeping up with “what’s new” in the nutrition world is the only way to stay on the cutting edge.

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