Horse Owners Illness Guide : Laminitus

Find out about Laminitus and how it can affect your horse


What is laminitis?

Laminitis is a condition which affects the horses feet.  It can also affect cattle.  It is an extremely painful and debilitating condition which can come on extremely quickly or gradually depending on the type.  It is caused when the membranes (laminae) that hold the bone of the foot (pedal bone) become inflamed.  Laminitis is typically seen in overweight horses.  Too much rich grass can cause an increase in the intake of sugars by the horse.  These sugars are not easy to break down and the associated acids damage blood vessels.  When the blood vessels serving the foot are damaged, this results in a decreased blood flow to the membranes and they become swollen and inflamed. 

When is laminitis most common?

Laminitis can happen all year round but because it is linked to diet, it is most common in spring when the new grass starts to come through. 

How do I prevent laminitis from happening?

Laminitis is linked to diet and tends to be more common in horses that are overweight.  Restricting your horses grass intake by using a grazing muzzle or restricted turnout will help to ease the problem. 

A larger horse will place more pressure on its feet which will exacerbate the condition.  By keeping your horse fit through work or exercise it will keep its weight down and reduce the pressure on the sensitive membranes.

Exercise road work can cause concussion to the feet and make the condition worse, so try to avoid exercise on the road or very hard ground. 

How do I treat laminitis?

Laminitis is treated using anti-inflammatory drugs and extensive pain relief.  As the condition is linked to diet and obesity, often weight loss and a major change in diet is part of the treatment. 


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