This is a very painful disease that affects the Laminae within the hoof. When the blood flow to the hoof gets disrupted it causes the Laminae to become inflamed and eventually die, in severe causes this complete breakdown of Laminae causes the Pedal Bone within the hoof capsule to become Foundered which is the term used to describe when the Pedal Bone is no longer supported within the hoof and from here it will then sink down and eventually penetrate the Sole of the horses foot, it is then called a Sinker.
Laminae is a tissue rich with veins, which supplies the hoof and internal structures with nutrients and blood supply, it is the Laminae tissue that supports the Pedal Bone within the hoof and joins it to the Hoof Wall.
Causes of Laminitis
There can be several triggering factors with Laminitis such as Feed overload, stress, drugs administered, infection or trauma.
- Feed Overload - This can be as a result of eating lush grass or eating an excess of starch feeds and from being overweight.
- Drugs Administered - Corticosteroids in particular have been linked to Laminitis.
- Stress - Has been known to cause the onset of Laminitis.
- Trauma - This can occur from exercising on hard ground for prolonged periods of time and also incorrect shoeing can be a triggering factor.
- Hormonal - Thyroid and Pituitary disorders such as Cushings can be a triggering factor for Laminitis.
- Toxins - This can be anything from a Viral, Bacterial or Fungal infection to a chemical toxin that triggers Laminitis, for example if a mare retains the Placenta, or after colic surgery, or from excess build up of Nitrogen in the diet from clover rich pasture.
Symptoms Of Laminitis
- Heat can be felt on the Sole, on the outside of the hoof wall and often on the r infections, especially with colic surgery.
- A strong pulse can be felt from the digital palmar artery.
- Visibly stressed and often depressed.
- Horse will be visibly uncomfortable when standing and will try to put more weight onto their heels to alleviate the pain. If the front feet are affected the horse will sit right back bringing its hindquarters well underneath the body.
- They are reluctant to exercise and may be shorter in their stride than normal.
- Horse may frequently lye down and be reluctant to get up.
Horses At Risk
All horses can potentially suffer from Laminitis, early detection and consultation with your vet along with following good stable management practices will help to limit the severity of the Lamanitic episode. Overweight horses and ponies are most at risk especially during times when lush grass is coming through ie. In the spring and autumn but there can be many other triggering factors such as toxins, hormonal, trauma and administered drugs.
Treatment Of Laminitis
- Laminitis should be treated immediately by your vet who will establish the extent of the Laminitis and the treatment that is to follow.
- This may be by way of corrective shoeing such as fitting a heart bar shoe which will assist in supporting the heel of the hoof and relieving the pressure.
- Other treatments include medical or in severe cases surgery.
- Be careful not to force horses with Laminitis to exercise it could further damage the laminae and cause the Pedal bone to drop even more.
- Stable the Lamanitic horse on a deep bed of shavings as this will help to ease the pressure and allow the horse to lye down for the same reason.
Prevention Of Laminitis
- To limit the amount of grass intake a muzzle can be used but careful attention is necessary to monitor susceptible horses.
- Ensure that your horse has a well balanced diet and avoid high starch diets as the large intestine can easily become overloaded with starch and thus trigger Laminitis.
- Horses prone to Laminitis should avoid being given corticosteroids which have been linked to Laminitis cases.
- Have your horse professionally shod on a regular basis.
- Monitor your horses weight, overweight horses are more likely suffer from being glucose intolerant and insulin resistant.
- Check that the mare fully cleanses after foaling, any more than 24 hrs then call the vet.
- Always pay attention after surgery for infection, especially after colic surgery.
What To Feed
The key thing to remember is low starch, low sugar high fibre, high antioxidants and monitor your horses weight.
- Alfalfa is great as it will supply your horse with essential nutrients such as protein and minerals and the addition of a hoof supplement will aid in the repair and healthy growth of the hoof.
- Avoid cereals and coarse mixes as they are often high in sugar and starch.
- Soya oil is a great energy supplement as it is low in sugar and starch.
- Ensure feeds are high in antioxidants such as Selenium, vitamin C and E as they will help to keep free radicals at bay.
- Many good feed companies will have a Laminitis friendly feed which will be high in antioxidants, high in fibre, low in sugar and low in starch levels.