Laminitis affects nearly 10% of the equine population and can occur with sudden onset in horses, ponies, and even donkeys.
What is Mild Laminitis In Horses?
Laminitis means inflammation (‘itis’) of the laminae – connections which form the junction between the hoof wall on the outside and the foot including the pedal bone on the inside. When a horse suffers from laminitis, the condition causes these connections to separate and break down. The resulting laminar destabilization may result in rotation or sinking (founder) of the pedal bone inside the hoof capsule.
It’s a painful condition that veterinarians, farriers, and horse owners have been racking their brains about for decades.
Laminitis — the separation or failure of laminae, which connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone within — can cause permanent structural changes in a horse’s foot, leading to repeated bouts of disease and lasting lameness.
What Causes Laminitis?
Recent research is changing our views constantly on the causes of laminitis.
Most cases of laminitis are now known to be caused by hormonal factors.
The commonest two being Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) and Cushing’s disease.
Overweight animals can become insulin resistant due to their high body fat content and the resulting high insulin levels have recently been shown to cause laminitis. EMS also leads to insulin resistance, this disease is usually seen in native ponies with subcutaneous fatty deposits and cresty necks.
Consumption of large quantities of grain, such as when horses gain access to a feed room, generates huge quantities of lactic acid and toxins in the gut resulting in severe laminitis. Some severe infections or major surgery such as for colic can trigger atoxaemia and can lead to laminitis.
In very lame horses, for example with a fractured limb, the opposite leg is forced to carry extra weight overloading the laminae and sometimes causing laminitis in this sound leg.
Also prolonged exercise on hard surfaces can also trigger a traumatic laminitis (e.g. endurance races).
Mild Laminitis Symptoms
The best chance for your horse to overcome this hoof disease might lie in your ability to catch it early. So take a look at some of the most common equine laminitis symptoms and make sure you react properly.
The five signs to look out for are:
1. Horse ‘feels’ his feet
Mild laminitis can be confused with other sorts of lameness. Horses or ponies may look ‘footy’ and prefer soft ground to walk on. They may have a shorter, stilted and pottery gait and be reluctant to make tight turns. Too little – or too much – foot lifting may also be noticeable.
2. Horse won’t move
In more severe cases, the horse will refuse to move and become distressed. He may sweat up, tremble and have increasing and high breathing and heart rates, due to the pain. Horses with laminitis should never be forced to walk, unless it is to get them from pasture to their stable.
3. Horse feet are warm and pounding
Inflammation of the laminae increases the blood flow to the feet, which can make the hooves feel warm to touch for hours. A strong/bounding digital pulse may also be felt.
4. Pain in the sole
Severe laminitics will display a pain reaction if you press this area with your fingers.
5. An altered foot shape
Laminitis may go unnoticed in some mild cases, or previous episodes may have happened before you purchased the horse. Rings on the hoof wall that are wider at the heel than at the toe or dropped soles with wider than normal white lines are common signs that the horse has suffered from the condition before. These characteristic changes are indicators that they are at a high risk of another episode.
How to Treat This Condition?
Horses showing signs of laminitis must be treated as an emergency, as chances of recovery are maximized if treatment is started early. Thus, once rotation and sinking of the pedal bone occur these changes are only ever partially repairable. So here’s few ways of equine laminitis treatment.
Pedal bone support
The priority in the initial treatment of laminitis is to support the pedal bone to prevent rotation or sinking. The shoes should be removed to allow better support to be applied to the sole.
The horse needs to be
It is important that the horse does not walk any more than necessary as
movementwill increase the strain on the laminae so there must be strict box rest.
Painkillers for Laminitis
Painkillers such as phenylbutazone (Bute) are prescribed to make the horse more comfortable and to reduce foot inflammation. Acepromazine is also commonly used to improve the blood supply to the laminae. It is essential to attempt to establish the underlying cause of the laminitis.
Radiographs are necessary to fully assess the position of the pedal bone and the changes occurring within the hoof capsule. The images reveal the severity of laminitis which influences the treatment plan and gives a more accurate long term prognosis.
The farrier can also use the radiographs to trim the foot more accurately and to position the shoes to provide optimal support.
Good farriery is essential in the treatment of laminitis, the foot must be carefully trimmed to gradually correct the orientation of the pedal bone relative to the ground.
Once the acute inflammation has subsided heart bar shoes are often applied to support the pedal bone and stabilize the hoof capsule. Metal shoes are usually employed, but bad cases may benefit from glue on plastic shoes which are gentler on the foot. Correction of laminiti changes is a slow process and the feet will need careful regular attention.
Stem cell therapy for Laminitis
Horse Stem Cell therapy holds a promising chance for equine laminitis treatment.
For instance, the results of a three-year survey of cases and results, presented at the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, have shown some remarkable results: for all horses that received a stem cell therapy for equine laminitis treatment,
there was an 87 percent chance of success after the treatment.
Our Medrego EquiCell allogeneic Stem Cell therapy has been used to successfully treat more than 450 horses in Europe and the Middle East.
Contact us, if you want to try Stem Cell transplantation for this indication. Get in touch to get more information about our Stem Cell Therapy for horse laminitis, arthritis, osteoarthritis, or any other horse tendon, ligament, joint or cartilage injury treatment.
Equine Laminitis is an inflammation of the laminae – connections that connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone within. It’s a painful condition that veterinarians, farriers, and horse owners have been racking their brains about for decades, therefore a prompt recognition of horse laminitis is crucial.
Several symptoms may help to recognize laminitis, such as: lameness, increasing heart rate, stress, obesity, warm and pounding feet etc.
If signs of equine laminitis are recognized, make sure to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Horse laminitis is a condition that must be treated as an emergency, as chances of recovery are maximized if treatment is started early.
Thus, once rotation and sinking of the pedal bone occur these changes are only ever partially repairable.
For the best horse laminitis treatment, a complex approach is needed.
Such things as shoe removal drastically decreased and controlled physical movement, painkillers, natural supplements as well as stem cell therapy will take the best effect when used as soon as possible. The recovery process will often take weeks or even months and recovering laminitis horses require careful management as well as regular veterinary and farrier attention to give the best results.