Laminitis is an incredibly painful and debilitating condition which, in severe cases, can result in the loss of the affected patient.
Laminitis is defined as inflammation of the laminae which in turn results in pedal bone instability meaning that the pedal bone may sink (founder) or rotate.
The primary clinical sign of laminitis is a gait abnormality which can vary vastly in severity from being foot sore or a little pottery (exacerbated on the turn), to those that are unwilling to move, to those the spend increased amounts of time lay down.
Other clinical signs include any or a combination of the following: increased digital pulses, heat in the feet, weight-shifting, rocking back into a ‘saw horse’ stance and sensitivity on hoof testers to name but a few.
Concurrent foot abscesses are a common secondary condition.
90% of cases in the UK occur secondary to an underlying endocrinopathy- Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and/or Equine Cushing’s Disease.
Laminitis may occur at any time throughout the year although Spring turnout is a particularly ‘at risk’ time due to the sugar levels in the grass combined with many horses exiting the Winter months having gained weight and ultimately having some degree of insulin dysregulation (EMS).
This year, the corona virus pandemic provides further concern given the fact that many such patients are spending more time at grass or are being turned away to grass and are receiving less exercise meaning that weight gain is inevitable and the risk for EMS increased.
Weight management is vitally important to try prevent episodes of laminitis and may include limiting time at grass, use of a grazing muzzle, soaking hay, double netting hay and exercise provided there are no current clinical signs of laminitis.
If you have any concerns that your horse has clinical signs of laminitis, EMS or Cushing’s disease or if you want weight management advise, please call us for a chat. Further information on all three conditions will follow in future presentations.