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Is Laminitis in Horses Preventable?

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Laminitis is a crippling condition for horses that affects the feet and causes severe pain and instability. Unfortunately, when the effects of laminitis are too severe to react to treatment, vets are likely to recommend a humane euthanisation. Therefore, for horse enthusiasts and professionals, it is crucial to understand how to recognise laminitis symptoms for effective and rapid laminitis treatment.

The disease can affect any horse or pony, which means that you need to be attentive to ensure your horse remains healthy. There are, however, some tell-tale signs you can learn to recognise. For horse professionals, learning how to reduce laminitis risks can make the evolution of the disease virtually preventable.

What are the signs of laminitis?

Laminitis in horses refers to the inflammation of the laminae, the sensitive tissues within the hoof. The hoof wall consists of two layers, one insensitive aka the horn, and inside the laminae. Laminitis happens when the blood flow to the sensitive tissues is affected, which leads to swelling inside the hoof, severe pain, and damage to the laminae. In extreme cases, the pedal bone can separate and rotate within the hoof wall. For the laminitis treatment to be effective, horse owners with the assistance of the vet need to identify and remove the cause of the inflammation.

Typically, a horse that has the hoof disease will display laminitis symptoms, such as shifting the weight of the affected limbs. The “sawhorse” stance is a frequent response to laminitis, as horses choose to shift their weight off the forelimbs when those are affected. Horses will often lie down to prevent applying pressure to the hooves. In the early stages, a horse may display a shortened ride or unnatural foot lifting. The hoof tends to stay hot for a long time, and you can register a strong pulse in the area where the blood is trying to reach the laminae. A farrier or a vet can assess hoof pain with a hoof tester to confirm the diagnosis.

Is the laminitis treatment effective?

The treatment can be lengthy and costly, but if you spot laminitis early, it can be highly effective to relieve pain and promote healing. Typically, the vet will need to evaluate the damage, and may also require x-rays of the feet to identify the degree of rotation of the pedal bone. The information is passed onto the farrier for essential hoof care to address the rotation.

Anti-inflammatory medication and ongoing diet management are crucial parts of the treatment. You need to keep the affected horse in pen with deep shavings where he can dig the hooves in a comfortable position Horses are sociable creatures and need to interact with each other, even during laminitis treatment.

How frequent is laminitis in horses?

Laminitis can affect any horse. But there are facilitating factors, such as horse obesity, high-carb nutrition, or insulin resistance that need to be managed with the appropriate diet to prevent the disease from developing.

Other issues need to be carefully monitored, such as an existing infection or repeated activities that can put a lot of pressure on the hooves. Additionally, some horses are also predisposed, such as mares that can retain placenta or horses with hormonal diseases.

In conclusion, laminitis in horses can be caused by a variety of factors. However, being able to spot early signs of discomfort can make the laminitis treatment more effective and prevent complications. The appropriate horse care with a suitable diet and dedicated health management can prevent risks for most horses.

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