How Well Do Horse Owners Recognize Laminitis?

Owners did not recognize laminitis in 42 out of 93 cases; rather, they cited undefined lameness, hoof abscess, or colic.
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Researchers said a relatively high proportion of owners their study did not recognize laminitis at all (i.e., they either did not know what the problem was or suspected their horse had another condition). | Photo: The Horse Staff

Knowing your horses and being an informed owner or caretaker are key to equine well-being. For instance, detecting and seeking veterinary intervention early in cases of laminitis, a complex condition with multiple causes, could head-off some of the condition’s debilitating effects.

A team of researchers compared differences in owner recognition versus veterinary diagnosis in 93 confirmed laminitis cases at 25 veterinary practices in Great Britain. In this cross-sectional study involving active cases in horses of various ages and breeds, both owners and veterinarians were asked to independently complete reporting forms.

Reporting forms included check boxes for 27 clinical signs, five underlying conditions, and seven risk factors associated with laminitis. Forms designed for owners featured explanatory diagrams and layman-friendly terminology. These reporting forms allowed researchers to ascertain whether owner-suspected cases were confirmed by the attending veterinarian, and to compare owner perception versus veterinary diagnosis

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Freelance journalist Natalie DeFee Mendik is a multiple American Horse Publications editorial and graphics awards winner specializing in equestrian media. She holds an MA in English from Colorado State University and an International Federation of Journalists’ International press card, and is a member of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists. With over three decades of horse experience, Natalie’s main equine interests are dressage and vaulting. Having lived and ridden in England, Switzerland, and various parts of the United States, Natalie currently resides in Colorado with her husband and two girls.

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