Diet, Hoof Care Critical in Preventing, Treating Laminitis

Laminitis is a very common disease in horses but is also preventable and can be treatable if not detected too late.

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Watch for any changes in the horse’s hoof or shoe size or hoof capsule appearance, as distortions could indicate active or past laminitis. | Photo: Courtesy Travis Burns/Dr. R. Scott Pleasant
Horses might love sweet feed and lush green grass, but equine veterinarians at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Alabama, warn that overindulgence of either can be a primary cause of the serious hoof disease laminitis.

Laminitis affects the feet of hoofed animals, mostly horses and cattle, and can be life-threatening if untreated, said Debra Taylor, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and an equine podiatry veterinarian.

“It is a catastrophic disease that causes loss of use (and) severe pain, as well as loss of life to a lot of horses,” Taylor said. “It is also an age-old struggle for horse owners, farriers and veterinarians—prevention is the key, through client education, animal diet, and exercise.”

Clinical signs include hoof pain and increased digital pulses progressing to inability to walk. Disease progression can lead to perforation of the coffin bone through the sole of the hoof and extreme, unmanageable pain that ultimately requires euthanasia

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