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Fatty Liver Disease and Hyperlipidosis in Minature Horses

A frequent complication to illness in these animal is excessive blood and liver fat. The primary illness may be minor such as a mild colic or even pregnancy can predispose to this but the complication of hyperlipemia has a high mortality rate. Other risk factors are being female and over 4 years of age. Full size horses do not seem to be at risk for this problem.

Hyperlipemia, horse. Lipemic plasma (right). Courtesy of Dr. Sameeh M. Abutarbush

Additional information

Hyperlipemia is a disorder of lipid metabolism in horses. Clinical signs are due to hepatic and/or renal failure due to fatty infiltration, and can be complicated by uderlying disease and metabolic acidosis. Usually but not always in ponies, especially fat, pregnant or nursing animals. There is one report of congenital hyperlipemia in a pony foal born to a mare which itself suffered from this disease. Dx by visible hyperlipemia in blood, which appears as opaque, white-to-yellow serum that has a triglyceride concentration >400 mg/dl (Watson). The prognosis is poor, with death usually occurring 3 days to 3 weeks from the onset of signs.
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