What is Laminitis? How Do I Treat It?

Laminitis is an inflammation of the laminae inside the hoof. These laminae attach the coffin bone to the hoof wall, and when they become inflamed or swelled, they become very sore. With most swellings and injuries, the swelling is not restricted in its growth by walls. Inside the hoof there is not room for expansion of the swelling, thus making a very sore hoof. When the laminae inside the hoof swell, they put pressure on the blood vessels inside that hoof which in turn restricts the flow of blood inside the vessels of the hoof or hooves, (usually the front), causing the hoof to begin to die. When the hoof begins to die and the coffin bone rotates, there is a great deal of pain for the horse or pony involved.
Laminitis is most times fairly easy to detect with a little knowledge about horses, ponies and their habits. Most horses and ponies at rest will bear the majority of their body weight on their front legs. When a horse has sore feet or legs, they will often ‘rest’ the sore front hoof as they would a rear leg or hoof. This is not normal behavior for a horse and any time a horse is ‘resting’ a front limb that limb should be immediately checked for lameness. A vet should be consulted when a horse is acting is such a way that he’s rocking his weight from his fore limbs to his rear limbs or standing on one front leg.
When it comes to laminitis – what is it and how to treat it, your information should come from a qualified veterinarian who is familiar with horses. There are many different causes for laminitis, among them are fever, overfeeding of grains, overeating of grain, (your horse gets out and gets into the grain bins and eats himself sick), too much fresh, green grass in the spring before his body becomes accustomed to it. Another leading cause is people feed horses grain when it’s not needed. To give your idle horse some grain as a treat now and again, is not going to harm him. However, giving him five pounds of grain per day when he’s not working is going to lead to a fat, unhealthy, horse, who could very likely contract laminitis.
If you suspect your horse has laminitis, the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with your vet for an examination. The vet who does the exam should have treated cases of laminitis in the past. Ask him how many cases he’s dealt with, successfully. Can he shoe your horse for laminitis, or can he recommend a good farrier for you? Your farrier and vet should be working hand-in-hand with each other to treat your horse properly. One should not be used without the other. Your vet should take x-rays of your horse’s hooves to determine the degree of coffin bone rotation in the hoof. This will help him determine the best route of care for your horse.
If you don’t ever want to have to deal with laminitis in your horse, it is imperative that you learn as much as you can about laminitis-what is it and how to treat it. It may be some of the best information you ever read up on.
It is essential to ensure your horse is getting an adequate feed/exercise ratio. It is also important to ensure your grains are located where a loose horse cannot feast on them, should he get loose in your barn.
If you should have the unfortunate event to end up with a horse knowing about laminitis-what is it and how to treat it, can be helpful in making the appropriate decisions on which vet and farrier to call, so as to make the best diagnosis and treatment plan for your horse.
Bute and rest in a stall will not do anything for a horse with laminitis. It will take months of corrective shoeing and vet treatments to right your horse to a useable condition.

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