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Laminitis in horses


Laminitis is most commonly found in horses, it is a painful condition that affects the feet of the equine family.

The disease involves the inflammation of the laminae of the hoof. Laminae is a strong elastic tissue found in the pedal bone and it carries the whole weight of the horse. When it inflamed, the laminae can tear the hoof and the pedal bone apart. This could cause severe pain and irreparable damage.

What Causes Laminitis?

Overload Laminitis
The strain produced by obesity and even the carrying of too much weight can also put stress on the hooves. Horses can get laminitis from the over-bearing conditions where one limb overload the opposite limb.

Metabolic Laminitis
Horses with a family history of laminitis and horses that develop laminitis without an obvious cause (grain overload, sudden access to lush, green grass) may be insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of the body become less sensitive to the effects of insulin, to keep the blood glucose controlled.


Image source: ThermaVet website

Laminitis Prevention and Treatment

By understanding more about laminitis and its causes, signs and treatments, it is more manageable to minimise the risks of laminitis in horses or control the long-term damage if it does occur.

  • Ensure proper nutrition management.
  • Maintain a regular hoof care.
  • Avoid weight overbearing.
  • Pick the right horseshoes.

Overload laminitis cases will need to be treated by supporting the limbs with the aim of correcting the cause of the overload. Inflammatory causes will be treated by intensive medical care, but metabolic cases will need diagnosis and treatment of often quite longstanding endocrine conditions. Therefore, it is important to seek advice from a vet in order to work out the best treatment and care plan.¹

Sourced from University of Liverpool website

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