Characterization of hypertriglyceridemia and response to treatment with insulin in horses, ponies, and donkeys: 44 cases (1995-2005)

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2009 Apr 1;234(7):915-9. doi: 10.2460/javma.234.7.915.


Objective: To characterize signalment, clinical signs of disease, and clinical response to insulin in equids with hypertriglyceridemia.

Design: Retrospective case series.

Animals: 20 horses, 17 ponies, and 7 donkeys with hypertriglyceridemia.

Procedures: For analysis of medical record data, horses, donkeys, and ponies with multiple serum or plasma triglycerides measurements were separated into groups. Hypertriglyceridemic equids that were (HT-I; n = 14) or were not (HT-N; 10) treated with insulin consisted of equids with an initial triglycerides concentration > 44 mg/dL but < 500 mg/dL. Equids with an initial triglycerides concentration > 500 mg/dL, all of which were treated with insulin, constituted the lipemic group (LIP-I; 20). Each group included a full range of ages. Pretreatment and posttreatment values from serum or plasma biochemical analyses were compared among groups.

Results: No age predilection for hypertriglyceridemia was apparent. Of the 29 female equids, only 7 (24%) were lactating or pregnant. Multiple illnesses were diagnosed in hypertriglyceridemic equids, including colitis (14/44; 32%) and colic (9/44; 20%). Many breeds were affected, including 16 (36%) American Miniature Horses and 9 (20%) Arabians or Arabian crossbreds. The mean posttreatment triglycerides concentration was not significantly different from the initial value in HT-N equids (175 vs 125 mg/dL) but was significantly lower than the pretreatment triglycerides concentration in HT-I (252 vs 55 mg/dL) and LIP-I (872 vs 87 mg/dL) equids.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Equids of all ages and sexes with various diseases had hypertriglyceridemia. Insulin treatment decreased the triglycerides concentrations in affected equids.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Equidae* / blood
  • Female
  • Horse Diseases / blood*
  • Horse Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Horses
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / blood
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / drug therapy
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / veterinary*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides