Dealing with Laminitis in Horses

Understanding And Dealing With Horse Laminitis

If you own horses, you should know that laminitis can be a very painful and potentially crippling issue that may even be fatal to the horse. Some horses that come down with the horse laminitis disease could have to be euthanized humanely if it impacts them seriously enough where it ends up being inhumane for them to keep living in discomfort.

Understanding & Treatment for Laminitis

In a horse, the hoof wall is made up of the horn, which is an interlinked outer insensitive layer that is supported by a sensitive inner layer, also known as the laminae. When laminitis takes hold, the blood flow that is supposed to go to the laminae ends up impacted that results in swelling and inflammation that develops in the tissues of the hoof and a great deal of severe pain. Over time, the laminae ends up starved of the nutrient rich blood and oxygen that it needs and the cells are damaged.


Treatment for laminitis in horses needs to be started as soon as possible once the condition is diagnosed, the laminae will begin to die off.

In the hoof, the laminae is what is responsible for supporting the hoof’s pedal bone and the weight of the entire animal. In a severe case of laminitis, this pedal bone can end up sinking and rotating because of the inability to use the damaged laminae for support along with the pull that comes from the deep digital flexor tendon.

In a case where the pedal bone begins to sink too far, it can start to protrude out from the sole area. For many horses, will end up being irreversible, but there are some cases that could be cured with a great deal of patience, time and money. Any pony or horse can be impacted by horse laminitis.

The Causes Of Laminitis

There can be different factors that could lead to laminitis. For example, if the animal has been through laminitis in the past, or if the horse is overweight, they could be predisposed to the development of the disease.

High Sugar And Starch Intake – It has been shown that a high intake of various soluble carbs like starch and sugars can become an issue. When ingested, it can lead to digestive system overload with the undigested starch and sugar that gets pushed to the hindgut. The bacteria will break down the material that is undigested and lead to acidity that will gill of the bacteria that works to digest fiber. This will release toxins out into the gut that can provoke a response in the horse that will lead to disruption of blood flow.

Stress Or Infection – Stress has been shown to cause problems, especially in an overweight horse, that can lead to a trigger of laminitis in horses. Additional, a severe bacterial infection, prolonged diarrhea or a severe attack of colic can lead to laminitis.

Concussion – This is actually a common cause if a horse has been worked for a prolonged period of time while on a hard surface, as this can lead to problems with the laminae. Such trauma can lead to severe laminitis rather quickly.

Whenever you have a horse that is showing signs of horse laminitis, it is important that you contact your vet as soon as possible so that a treatment plan can be put in place right away. It may suggested that you move the horse to a pen that is specifically set up for treatment, including changes in feed and working to minimize stress as much as possible. If the horse recovers, you can then work with your veterinarian to be sure that prevention measures are taken moving forward.