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Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP)

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP)

HYPP hyperkalemic periodic paralysis is pretty rare genetic disease seen in Quarter Horses and other breeds that have Quarter horse foundation stock leading back to the stallion Impressive.  It is a genetic disease, therefore the only way to prevent the paralysis associated with the disease is through management and nutrition.

Nutritionally, HYPP can be managed by decreasing the amount of Potassium in the diet.  Potassium is a macro mineral and found in most common feed stuffs, so it cannot be completely eliminated, nor should it be.  But is should be limited as much as possible.  Feeds with high potassium levels include molasses, alfalfa hay, T&A hay, and Clover.  Low potassium hays tend to be grasses like Bermuda, Bahia and the like.  It is very important to note, that high quality forages are immature forages and tend to have much higher potassium levels than mature lower quality forages.  Hays that have bloomed or headed out, have lower potassium content as the potassium tends to migrate back down the stalk of the plant.

I recommend you test all forages, especially higher quality forages for their Potassium content.  This can be done at most feed labs by wet chemistry (don’t use NIR as it is less reliable) and select what is called the DCAD test.  Refer to the following link to Dairyland labs and go to their sample submittal page.  It is important to probe the hay, in other words use a bore that you should be able to borrow from your feed supplier.  Hand grab samples are much less accurate, but if necessary, take at least a gallon bag full.  With a probed sample, a quart is adequate.  Most hay will contain about 2% potassium, higher potassium hay will be in excess of 2.5%, just use these numbers as a guideline.

With the reduction of high quality forages available for horses with HYPP, it may be more difficult to maintain body weight, especially since HYPP inflicted horses tend to be larger animals.  Most complete feeds contain molasses, high in potassium.  Horses with HYPP need to be on at least a 3 way grain (Barley, Oats, Corn) and a vitamin mineral supplement.  Harmonize contains enzymes, probiotics and prebiotics that will prevent the horse from getting ulcers and colic associated with feeding these types of grains.  These digestive aid ingredients also have been seen to improve feed digestibility, so poorer quality feeds will yield more nutrients with the addition of Harmonize to the diet.

Harmonize also contains all of the vitamins and trace minerals your horse needs.  If you are not feeding a complete feed in addition to Harmonize, we recommend you feed 3 scoops a day of Harmonize instead of 2 scoops, to maximize protection.

If your HYPP horse is on pasture, it is important that you pay attention to what fertilizers you are using and most fertilizers contain potassium (K) as potash.  The lable on a fertilizer bag has N P K listed as a ratio (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium), for example 30:15:10 would have 30 parts N, 15 parts P and 10 parts K.  Additional K on your pasture may exacerbate the problem with your horse.

For more information about HYPP see



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  1. Just reading about the immune system, oxidative stress and selenium status in our horses. Low selenium status from most of our pastures/forages can settle in slowly over time. This has a direct correlation with the strength of the immune system and can also result in slower recovery times from even mild exercise. Another great reason to support faster recovery times and overall stronger immune system health with Harmonize. Full update available in Equine Disease Quarterly published by Maxwell Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington KY. October 2013 Volume 22, No. 4.

  2. Thank you for your valuable input.


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