What is laminitis in horses


Laminitis is extremely painful and debilitating for horses. There is a failure of the tissues bonding the hoof wall to the pedal bone in the hoof. This can result in the bone rotating or sinking within the hoof.


How does a horse get laminitis?

Laminitis commonly results from endocrine diseases such as equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) or pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), but other causes can include weight bearing on supporting limbs due to injury and excessive sugar intake from grain or lush pasture. Laminitis is irreversible.

Can laminitis in horses be cured?

Laminitis is a crippling condition which can be fatal in severe cases. Once a horse has had an episode of laminitis, they are particularly susceptible to future episodes. Laminitis can be managed but not cured which is why prevention is so important.

What are the signs of laminitis in horses?

Signs of acute laminitis include the following: Lameness, especially when a horse is turning in circles; shifting lameness when standing. Heat in the feet. Increased digital pulse in the feet (most easily palpable over either sesamoid bone at the level of the fetlock).

How do you treat a laminitic horse?

TREATMENT – ACUTE Your vet is likely to prescribe painkillers and advise a period of box rest with a deep bed of shavings. Once the pain has initially been managed, your horse’s hooves may have to be trimmed by your farrier to relieve any pressure and sole or frog supports fitted.

Can horses get laminitis from hay?

Feed a low energy forage Hay is more suitable for horses and ponies at risk of laminitis than haylage. For those prone to the disease and/or overweight, feed hay that has been soaked for 12-16 hours.

What are the signs of founder in a horse?


Signs and Symptoms of Founder

  1. Sudden onset of lameness.
  2. Resistance to walking or moving.
  3. Feeling a pulse and heat in the foot.
  4. Shifting weight back and forth between legs.
  5. Reluctance to bend the leg.
  6. Standing with the legs camped out in front of the body or with all four legs under the body.
  7. Laying down more frequently.

How do you prevent laminitis?

Fortunately, metabolic disorders in horses can be controlled, reducing the risk of laminitis, with these basic steps:

  1. Identify at-risk horses. …
  2. Treat PPID. …
  3. Minimize sugars and starches in the diet. …
  4. Limit access to lush pasture. …
  5. Manage body weight. …
  6. Prevent starch overloads. …
  7. Make dietary changes gradually.

Can a horse with laminitis eat grass?

Quick facts. High amounts of sugars in grasses can bring about laminitis in horses susceptible to the disease. Susceptible horses should have limited grazing or no grazing.

What do laminitic hooves look like?

Normal hoof growth in horses tends to favor the toe, or front-facing, side. Horses that are likely to have laminitis will start to grow more heel. The clearest sign of abnormal hoof growth is that distorted rings begin to appear on the hooves.

How does sugar cause laminitis?

When large quantities of sugar are absorbed into the blood stream there is a spike of insulin release – intended to drive the sugar into cells for energy production or storage. However, in extreme circumstances, especially when there is underlying insulin resistance, this can cause laminitis.

What are the stages of laminitis?


There are 4 phases of laminitis: the developmental phase, the acute phase, the subacute phase, and the chronic phase. The developmental phase is initiated when the horse experiences or comes in contact with one of the predisposing factors.

What causes a horse to founder?


Causes of Founder (laminitis) in Horses Feeding your horse a large amount of soluble carbohydrates causes an overload of undigested sugars and starches. High fever or illness causing equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) Severe cases of colic. Stress such as travelling, foaling, or changes in the environment.

What not to feed a horse with laminitis?

Avoid Grain Overload. One primary cause of laminitis in horses occurs from undigested starch (carbohydrates) entering the caecum. This usually occurs due to grain overload or from grazing a pasture that has developed high sugar content grasses.

What time of day is the sugar content highest in grass?


Sugar content of grasses is higher in the afternoon than in the morning and sugar content is lowest at night, so grazing should be restricted to the safest times of the day to graze, early morning and night times.

How do I stop my horse from foundering?

To avoid grass founder:

  1. Allow the horse to fill up on hay before turning out on grass for a few hours.
  2. Place a grazing muzzle on horses predisposed to foundering to limit their forage intake. Grazing muzzles limit grass intake but allow the horse to exercise throughout the day.

Can a horse founder on hay?

Alfalfa hay can cause horses to founder and develop laminitis due to the excess nutrients provided by the high quality hay if too much is fed.

How does grass cause laminitis?

Poor Pasture Grass which is stressed by such things as an overnight frost or overgrazing will result in the formation of a type of sugar known as fructan. This sugar is the plant’s form of storing energy in the form of carbohydrate and eating fructan can directly cause laminitis.

Why does spring grass cause laminitis?

The reason the risk of laminitis increases in the spring is that as the days get longer, the extra sunlight increases photosynthesis, which results in starch, sugar and, in some plants, fructan production.

What hay is best for laminitic horses?

Generally, a mixture of grass hay and alfalfa is the best hay combination for horses prone to laminitis.

Does shoeing help laminitis?

The successful treatment of most laminitic horses can be accomplished with therapeutic shoeing, which includes carefully assessing the damage as well as reading the particular needs of the horse.

What time of year do horses get laminitis?


Commonly horses are susceptible to laminitis in the spring as the lush grass begins to come through. An overload in carbohydrates is often the trigger for laminitis, especially in ponies. Recently there has been a great deal of research into why some ponies get laminitis and others don’t when under similar management.

Can you feed carrots to a horse with laminitis?


One of the first things you are likely to be told, as the owner of a laminitic or EMS horse, is "no treats, no carrots, no apples..". A grape or prune is sometimes suggested as suitable for hiding pergolide tablets, but owners may be warned not to use a slice of carrot or apple for the same purpose.

Is laminitis the same as founder?

So laminitis is generally accepted as the acute situation. And founder is chronic laminitis, especially once some mechanical changes have occurred in the foot.

Can worming cause laminitis?

In rare cases worming, vaccination, traveling or separation from a “friend” can trigger an attack of laminitis.

Can the founder be reversed?

“You can diminish pain and possibly prevent more damage, but you can’t reverse what has been done.” That’s the primary reason why Moyer recommends that owners take a foundered horse’s progress one day at a time, particularly in the first days and weeks after treatment has been initiated.

Does apple cider vinegar help laminitis?

Research has also shown that it can slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which is helpful for those founder-prone ponies/horses that are sensitive to sugar. Because of this, using apple cider vinegar for horses with laminitis can help to reduce the risk of it reoccurring, along with proper care.

Is turmeric Good for laminitis?

Curcumin, derived from the turmeric plant, is a spice that recently become popular to feed to horses as a dietary supplement. It has purported anti-inflammatory benefits and is used in horses with laminitis, arthritis, metabolic syndrome and other health conditions.

Can laminitis cause colic?

Some horses develop laminitis for reasons unrelated to diet, and colic can occur in horses with even the most carefully managed feed programs. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts have carried out research* to determine how the hindgut microbial makeup is related to colic and laminitis.

What causes high insulin levels in horses?

Hyperinsulinemia, which is defined as an unusually high blood or plasma insulin concentration, with or without hyperglycemia, is common in horses. Pituitary dysfunction and obesity can cause IR and both are correlated with an increased risk of laminitis.

Why does high insulin cause laminitis?

"Stimulation of the IGF-1R by insulin may lead to inappropriate lamellar epidermal cell proliferation and lamellar weakening, a potential mechanism for hyperinsulinaemic laminitis." Metformin may reduce cell growth in response to IGF-1: Reproduction.

How is laminitis diagnosed?

A diagnosis of laminitis is based on clinical signs of lameness, bounding digital pulses and radiographic findings. Radiographic changes also vary with the severity and chronicity of the primary cause.

When should I turn my Laminitic horse out?

So, when is the best time to graze a laminitis prone horse? Turn out early morning, removing from pasture by mid-morning. This is because overnight grass plants use stores of WSC as there is no light available to use for photosynthesis – the process that produces sugar in plants.

Can grass cause a horse to founder?

You may have heard that fructan is the singular evil element in grass that causes horses to founder. However, more recent research has shown that pasture-induced laminitis cannot be attributed solely to fructan. There is no fructan in warm-season grasses, yet horses can still founder on them.

How long can laminitis last?

It takes weeks to months for a horse to recover from laminitis. In one research study, 72% of animals were sound at the trot after 8 weeks and 60% were back in work.

Can a foundered horse be ridden again?

Horses can recover from founder. It depends on the cause, the severity, and the horse. Typically a horse with acute laminitis is given stall rest. It would be best if you kept your horse in a stall with soft bedding, preferably one with deep pine shavings or good hay to reduce the strain on the hoof.

How long does it take for a horse to show signs of founder?

During the early acute phase, the hoof appears normal, but because inflammation is occurring within the foot (see question defining founder), another symptom that may occur is the presence of heat in the foot. This phase can last anywhere from 34-72 hours, depending on how quickly the disease progresses.

Which hay is lowest in sugar?

NOTE: Current Low Sugar / NSC (non-structural carbohydrates) Inventory

  1. 4.21% NSC sugar – (Alfalfa (90-100% alfalfa)
  2. 4.81% NSC sugar – (Alfalfa Mix 70-90% alfalfa)
  3. 5.56% NSC sugar – (Alfalfa (90-100% alfalfa)
  4. 5.7% NSC sugar – (Alfalfa Mix 70-90% alfalfa)
  5. 9.0% NSC sugar – (Grass 0-10% alfalfa)

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