Weight Gain More Than Doubles a Horse’s Laminitis Risk

Horses and ponies that gain weight are more than twice as likely to develop laminitis than if they lose or maintain their weight, a recently published study revealed.
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Weight gain often occurred unintentionally, even when owners were aiming for their animals to maintain or lose it. This reiterates the need to consistently record weight and body condition in order to prevent undesirable weight gain. | Photo: iStock

Horses and ponies that gain weight are more than twice as likely to develop laminitis than if they lose or maintain their weight, a recently published study revealed.

Carried out by researchers from the Animal Health Trust (AHT), Rossdales Equine Hospital, and the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College, all in England, the study also revealed the groups particularly at risk were British native pony breeds and their crosses, as well as horses and ponies with a history of laminitis and those with lameness or soreness after routine hoof care.

This research, funded by equine charity World Horse Welfare, comes from the first ever online study that collected information from a group of horse and pony owners in real time. The study is also the second largest to identify weight gain as a risk factor for laminitis. Owners of 1,070 horses and ponies in Great Britain regularly reported their animal’s management, health, and estimated weight via online questionnaires for 29 months. The findings highlight how important regular weight monitoring is to prevent negative impacts on an animal’s health, the researchers said

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