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Laminitis in Horses is Often Overlooked

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Do you suspect laminitis in your horse? A horse may be considered lame when the pain interferes with his movement. It could be caused by an injury, such as a kick from another horse, an abscess in a hoof, or a more severe injury like pulling a muscle or tendon. Severe injuries require a more lengthy recovery. Chronic diseases, which develop over a long period of time, include arthritis, inflamed joints, or navicular. They are often a natural part of aging. Chronic problems can be managed with medication, special shoes and exercise. In any case, a vet will put your horse through various test, possible x-rays, and determine the best course of treatment.

What is Laminitis

Laminitis is the inflammation of the laminae. The laminae is the highly vascularized layer between the wall and the coffin bone. It has a parallel, laminar shape, and is named the laminae. Laminar connection has a key role in the strength and the health of the hoof. Mechanical laminitis can occur when a horse habitually paws, is ridden or driven on hard surfaces. Systemic laminitis most common in the front feet.

Causes of Laminitis

Endotoxins are thought to be a major cause of laminitis.  An Endotoxin is a toxin produced by certain bacteria and released upon destruction of the bacterial cell. These toxins can occur with Carbohydrate Overload, Nitrogen compound overload, Toxins released during a severe Colic, Excess Nutrients of Lush Pastures (especially after a cold season), excess sugar in Frosted Grass (Winter grass), untreated bacteria infections, and insulin resistance. Excessive concussion or weight bearing can be another cause of laminitis.

How To Diagnose Laminitis

Lameness in horses is often visible by watching his motion. You may also notice that he is off when you ride.To diagnose lameness, watch the horse as he walks or trots. A horse that bobs his head down may have a problem in the hind leg. A horse that lifts his head up may try to take the weight off his front leg. Other signs to look out for are unusual swelling anywhere on the leg. It needs the trained eye of a veterinarian to be able to diagnose laminitis. Your vet will have to confirm by radio-graph, or x-rays, the severity of the condition. 


Treatment of Laminitis

A horse suffering from laminitis should not be worked. If you suspect lameness in your horse, or if he has any kind of swelling, let him rest and get him looked at by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Only a vet can make a clear distinction between an acute situation, starting at the onset of a laminitis attack, and a chronic situation. The sooner the diagnosis is made, the faster the treatment and the recovery process can begin. Sadly, many cases of laminitis go undetected for too long, and treatment can become difficult, lengthy, and costly.

Management of Laminitis

  • A modified diet that provides adequate nutrition based on high-quality forage, digestible fiber (beet pulp) and oil. Avoid excess carbohydrates, especially from grain, and provide adequate nutrition based on forage, digestible fiber, and oil.
  • Schedule regular farrier visits to keep hoofs trimmed, and if needed, provide therapeutic shoeing.
  • Keep on schedule with Worming and Vaccinations to keep your horse healthy.
  • Add special formulated Supplements to support your horses system.
  • Avoid overload of toxins by grazing on lush pastures and untreated infections.

Long Term Prognosis for Horses with Laminitis

A horse diagnosed with laminitis may have period of times when the inflammations subsides. Your horse may feel better, and you may not notice any outward signs. However, most likely the condition will recur. Many cases become chronic, since the coffin bone has rotated within the foot, and the laminae never regain their original strength. There may also be interference with normal blood flow to the feet, as well as metabolic changes within the horse. Early intervention is key. If left untreated for too long it may cause irreparable damage and severe suffering.

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