Nitroglycerine for Laminitis: Use Caution

One California farrier saw the nitroglycerine patches used on a miniature horse which had suffered repeated bouts of acute laminitis. The patches were credited with swift recovery.
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Walk down the aisle of any vet clinic, and you’re sure to see a foundered horse. Whether an acute case in treatment or a chronic case having some remedial shoeing therapy, every clinic has its pet cases…or should we call them survivors? For every "old chronic case" which revisits a veterinary clinic periodically, how many have been destroyed? This summer, the great race mare Bayakoa succumbed to laminitis. She, who was famous for throwing two shoes in one race without missing a stride, was no match for the assault of laminitis. The disease’s most famous victim, of course, was Secretariat.

Hoofcare & Lameness/R. F. Redden, DVM

Nitroglycerine patches come in several dosages, sizes, and shapes. How much to use and how often to replace them are large variables.

Research is going on around the world to ascertain the systemic causes of this crippling disease. From Australia, Chris Pollitt, MRCVS, tells us that laminitis is a breakdown of the basement membranes surrounding the secondary lamellae that are the "hand in the glove" that attach outer hoof wall to inner bone. Pollitt has been able to isolate enzymatic agents that he feels are released like a gang of thugs bent on wreaking havoc in the foot. His research now focuses on finding anti-enzyme agents, very similar to the process used to fight cancer such as malignant melanoma (skin cancer). Pollitt suggested that a patch might someday be applied in the coronet area, releasing whatever agent into the foot

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Written by:

Fran Jurga is the publisher of Hoofcare & Lameness, The Journal of Equine Foot Science, based in Gloucester, Mass., and Hoofcare Online, an electronic newsletter accessible at Her work also includes promoting lameness-related research and information for practical use by farriers, veterinarians, and horse owners. Jurga authored Understanding The Equine Foot, published by Eclipse Press and available at or by calling 800/582-5604.

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