Laminitis – why there is more to management than just avoiding spring grass

Laminitis management,

Recognising laminitis

As we come into warmer weather, and the grass starts to grow again, we often see flare-ups of laminitis.

Common signs include:

  • Increased digital pulses
  • Heat in front feet
  • Lame and shifting weight between front feet
  • Hunched “elephant on a ball” stance

Horses presenting with laminitis need immediate management of the flare-up as it is clearly a painful condition. But there are also other steps we can take to try to prevent subsequent episodes:

Looking for an underlying cause of laminitis

Over the past 20 years there has been a paradigm shift in our understanding of the causes of laminitis. We now know that affected horses and ponies have an underlying cause of insulin dysregulation. Management of these underlying conditions is essential for good laminitis control.

The two conditions which account for 90% of pasture associated laminitis episodes are:

  • Equine metabolic syndrome
  • Cushing’s disease (pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction)

These conditions can be identified using a blood test which is usually performed once the acute episode of laminitis has been controlled. Support and realign the feet Radiographs can be a useful tool when trying to manage laminitis. By taking x-rays, we can determine if there has been any change to the alignment of the feet, such as sinking or rotation of the pedal bone. X-rays allow specific and individual recommendations to be made for trimming and shoeing of the laminitic horse’s feet. In turn, this will help to prevent further damage to your horse’s feet.

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