Common Clinical Signs of Laminitis

Recognizing clinical signs early and seeking immediate veterinary care can improve treatment outcomes.
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Laminitis is a painful disease in horses that is often illustrated by classic clinical signs. Recognizing these signs during early onset and seeking immediate veterinary care can improve the outcome of treatment, said James Orsini, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, director of the Laminitis Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

Orsini and Nora Grenager, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM, of Grenager Equine Consulting, in Middleburg, Va., described the phases, clinical signs, and degrees of laminitis at the 2012 International Equine Conference of the Equine Limb–Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics, which took place Nov. 2-3 in Monterey, Calif.

Orsini explained that practitioners and researchers divide laminitis cases into three categories: acute (rapid onset with short but severe course), chronic (lasting for a long period of time or marked by frequent recurrence), and subclinical (not yet showing clinical signs). The condition most frequently occurs in the front hooves, which carry the majority of the horse’s weight (estimated at approximately 60%) although it can affect the hind hooves as well

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Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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