EQUUS - - Eq Medical Front -

A new study from Bel­gium sug­gests that a weight loss plan for obese ponies that se­verely lim­its their calo­rie in­take won’t nec­es­sar­ily put their health or well-be­ing at risk.

Re­searchers at Ghent Univer­sity al­tered the di­ets of 18 Shet­land ponies who were con­sid­ered obese, each rank­ing be­tween 7 and 9 on the body0 con­di­tion score (BCS) scale. For the first four weeks of the study pe­riod, the ponies were fed a diet that was pre­cisely cal­cu­lated to main­tain their con­di­tion. For the next 16 and a half weeks, six of the ponies were fed that same amount, while another six re­ceived only 80 per­cent of the amount re­quired to main­tain their con­di­tion and the re­main­ing ponies con­sumed only 60 per­cent of that amount. For a fi­nal three-week pe­riod, all ponies were once again fed a level re­quired to main­tain a sta­ble body weight.

Through­out the en­tire study pe­riod, the re­searchers col­lected data on each pony’s body weight, changes in BCS and other phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics. The depth of fat over their loins and ribs was mea­sured us­ing ul­tra­sound0. The ponies were also regularly given phys­i­cal ex­ams and be­hav­ioral assess­ments.

At the end of the study pe­riod, the re­searchers de­ter­mined that, as ex­pected, the ponies on the most re­stricted diet had the great­est de­crease in BCS, as well as in cir­cum­fer­ence of their heart-girth area and belly. De­spite their weight loss and their more se­vere energy re­stric­tion, how­ever, these ponies showed no in­di­ca­tion of de­vel­op­ing gas­tric ul­cers or stereo­typic be­hav­iors, such as crib­bing or weav­ing.


Vet­eri­nary Jour­nal,

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