Laminitis in Horses

Laminitis in Horses

Horse laminitis is very serious, and affects a huge number of horses every year. Laminitis is caused by significant changes in the circulatory system in the hoof. These changes will cause inflammation in the sensitive areas of the laminae of the hoof. Although typically laminitis is common in horses it can also be found in cattle. The disease causes severe lameness, and is usually found in both of the front feet of the horse.

Although it can be treated, prevention is far better than cure as it is incredibly painful for the horse to have. Often the horse will have trouble walking, and in severe cases they will in fact be rooted to the spot. Laminitis will never simply get better by itself, and will need treatment from both the vet, and a qualified farrier. As soon as your horse begins to show signs of lameness you should have them checked over to ensure that it is not horse laminitis.

It is very commonly found in the front feet; however, in extreme cases it can affect all four feet. If your horse is affected in all four feet they will find it is far easier to lie down, and will spend most of their time in their stable. They will struggle to stand, and be very slow when moving even short distances. You may also notice that their breathing is shallow, and that they are sweating more than usual due to the pain. As soon as your horse shows signs of laminitis they will need to begin treatment.

The causes of horse laminitis are very easy to determine, and will often overlap with each other. This makes it easier to avoid your horse contracting this painful condition at all. Often the horse laminitis is caused by a huge increase in endotoxins. These are often released during a case of colic, so if your horse has recently got over colic they are likely to show signs of laminitis as well. As well as during colic endotoxins are released into your horses bloodstream through an overload of carbohydrates.

Often when horses are allowed to over eat, and indulge in lush grass areas for long periods of time their bodies will produce more of these endotoxins. These toxins that are found in the bloodstream cause circulatory problems, and result in the horse laminitis being present. Other causes for the horse laminitis are being over worked on a hard surface, long time periods being transported, and drinking far too much cold water when overheated themselves. Stress can also cause the laminitis to be found in your horse, and if they have recently been stressed you should keep an eye on them.

The laminae in your horses foot is present all of the time, and is the membrane that hold the pedal bone in place in the hoof. If you leave the horse laminitis, and do not have it treated this membrane can die, and the pedal bone becomes weakened over time. The tendons that are found in your horse’s leg will pull on this bone causing it to rotate within the hoof. In extreme cases the pedal bone is twisted so far that it penetrates the sole of your horses hoof. In these cases the only thing that can be done for your horse is to have it destroyed.

As soon as you think that your horse is showing signs of horse laminitis you will need to have them treated. If the laminitis is found early enough it can be treated very easily, and your horse will make a full recovery. The first thing that will be advised to do is for a farrier to remove your horse shoes, and allow their feet to breathe normally. This can help the circulation to the area that is infected with the horse laminitis. Anti-inflammatory drugs will be given to your horse to help with the pain, and restricted to staying in their stable so they can rest.

In more severe cases a qualified farrier will need to shave the hooves to relieve the pressure of the horse laminitis. This will need to be done often until the correct length of the hoof is present. Often aftercare and corrective shoeing will be needed to ensure that the laminitis does not return. You will find that when horse laminitis is found in your horse it tends to re-occur often. Correct horse care in the future will be necessary to ensure that your horse does not contract the laminitis in the future.


 See our Free Online Seminar on Lamintis


Part 1:  Understanding Laminitis

Part 2: Diagnosing Laminitis

Part 3: Treating Laminitis