Laminitis is a painful inflammatory condition of the tissues (laminae) that bond the hoof wall to the pedal (coffin) bone in the horse’s hoof.
It is often associated with spring grass growth and overweight ponies. It can vary in severity from the merest hint of lameness to a serious case referred to as sinking
Spring grass or heavy grain diets have high levels of carbohydrates that when eaten produce high blood sugars resulting in persistent high insulin hormone being released from the pancreas. These high levels of insulin have been shown in recent years to be heavily associated with laminitic bouts and appear to be the reason horses suffering from Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) & PPID (formerly Cushing’s disease) more frequently suffer from this painful disease. This is now considered a major cause of pasture-associated laminitis.
Treat laminitis as an emergency. If laminitis is not treated promptly, the pedal bone drops (these cases are described as “sinkers”) or the pedal bone can rotate downwards and become foundered.
Where possible, move the individual onto soft ground. Deep sand appears to be the most comfortable for them. If the animal cannot move, make sure water and hay are provided at its location. Replace the pasture with hay to reduce sugar levels and ensure that your horse stays hydrated.
Once the initial phase has passed, long-term control will include corrective farriery/trimming and dietary control – which your vet will help you plan. We may also suggest testing for hormonal conditions that can increase the risk of attacks & x-rays to evaluate how much change in the feet has occurred.
As mentioned above, EMS and PPID are two conditions whose presence can greatly increase risk of laminitis so early detection and management is paramount in preventing outbreaks. Laminitis can be the only obvious sign of one of these conditions existing in their horse/pony/donkey so discussing these syndromes with your vet if your horse has ever suffered from laminitis is important.
Consider use of grazing muzzles to slow consumption and yarding with hay during daylight when sugar levels are highest in the grass.
Please contact one of the Franklin Vets Equine Veterinarians for further information on products and a management plan specific for your situation.