This post introduces you to the topic of Equine Laminits. Over the next couple of blog posts, we shall look more closely at its, causes, clinical signs, diagnostics and treatment.
Did you know that 1 in 10 horses/ponies develop Laminitis each year and that 45% of owners do not recognise their horse’s symptoms as Laminitis (1)
These stark figures provided by animal health trust suggest the difficulty owners have with Laminitis and how easily it can become a more serious situation.
Once a horse or pony has had laminitis once, they are at greater risk of getting it again.
The most common clinical signs reported by vets and owners are linked with changes in gait and stance, including a stilted/pottery or lame walk.
However once these signs have been seen, suggesting pain in the feet, damage to the foot has already taken place which can lead to permanent changes in the feet. Therefore prevention really is vital to helping to stop the manifestation of these effects. (1)
Often owners report that they mistook Laminitis for general lameness, a foot abscess, colic or joint / muscle stiffness before Veterinary diagnosis takes place
The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has been working with Anglia Ruskin University and equine feed companies Spillers and Waltham to seek to investigate horse carers’ current knowledge of laminitis to understand factors influencing what horse carers’ do to prevent and manage the condition and to understand the decision making process surrounding caring for horses, to improve equine welfare (2)
A recent study by the RVC, Animal Health Trust (AHT) and Rossdales Equine Hospital, found horses and ponies that gain weight are more than twice as likely to develop laminitis than if they lose or maintain their weight and revealed that the groups particularly at risk of contracting laminitis were native pony breeds and their crosses, as well as horses and ponies with a history of laminitis and those with lameness or soreness after routine hoof care (3),
Researchers found a high risk of laminitis present in horses shod/trimmed at greater than 8 week intervals with these individuals also taking longer to return to soundness post laminitis.
Other findings included that diet, grazing management and health were factors closely associated with the development of laminitis and that weight gain often occurred unintentionally even when owners were aiming for weight maintenance or loss in their animals, highlighting the importance of keeping a regular check on your horse’s weight.
Reference 1: https://www.aht.org.uk/research/lameness/laminitis