Laminitis is a serious disease of horses that occurs due to either inflammation, decreased or increased blood flow, or metabolic unbalance. It can result in the separation of the connections (laminae) that attach the hoof wall to the coffin bone in the foot. When separation occurs the coffin bone rotates away from the hoof wall and, in severe cases, sinking can cause the coffin bone to penetrate the sole. Once the coffin bone has rotated, it is called founder. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]
Laminitis can be triggered by a variety of different issues, such as abrupt diet changes, overeating grain or lush forage, colic, systemic infections, metabolic issues, extensive exercise on hard ground, poor blood circulation in the feet (lack of exercise, long trailer rides), retained placenta, or even drugs. Some signs of laminitis are reluctance to walk, increased digital pulses in the feet or the horse stands with its hind legs pulled under it so it looks like it wants to sit down.
Early diagnosis and identifying the potential cause is the best way to minimize the effects of laminitis on your horse. Any illness or overeating episode should be dealt with promptly to avoid seeing signs of laminitis. If not treated promptly by your veterinarian, the damage to the laminae can be severe enough to cause separation and rotation of the coffin bone, which is irreversible and often results in chronic lameness.
column by DR. KATIE HENNESSY
BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. After completing an advanced internship and working as an Associate Veterinarian, she is currently practicing at Polk Equine, LLC. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.