Laminitis is an extremely painful condition affecting 1 in 10 horses/ponies & donkeys and can cause permanent damage to the hooves. It can occur in any of the horse’s hooves but is more commonly seen in the front hooves.
What is laminitis?
Laminitis affects tissue called sensitive laminae which are found in the horse’s hoof. The sensitive laminae act like velcro to form a strong bond to support the pedal bone within the hoof. Laminitis causes the sensitive laminae to stretch, weaken and become damaged which can cause the pedal bone to move within the hoof (think of a zip being un-done).
In extreme cases, the pedal bone can rotate and/or drop through the sole of the hoof which is very painful. In cases like this, euthanasia is likely to be the only treatment option to end the horse’s suffering.
Signs of laminitis
What are the signs of laminitis to look out for?
– Lameness* affecting most commonly at least two limbs, or reluctance to move
– The horse leans back onto its heels to take the weight off the painful toe area
– The lameness is worse when the horse walks on hard ground or turns
– Shifting weight between feet when resting
– Heat in the hooves
– Increased digital pulses
– Pain with use of hoof testers at the point of frog on the foot
What triggers laminitis
Laminitis can be triggered by the following factors:
– Overfeeding of grass, or intake of lush grass
– Metabolic disorders
– Certain medical conditions (such as Cushing’s disease)
What to do if you suspect laminitis
Call us immediately. Laminitis can be debilitating for horses, ponies and donkeys and it is important you seek veterinary advice from us as soon as you see any of the above signs or suspect laminitis.
How to prevent laminitis
– Manage your horses diet
– Managing their access to grass
– Monitor their weight closely
– Regular exercise
– Good hoof care
Feel free to call the equine team with your concerns on 01653 618303.