Laminitis, also known as founder, is a painful and serious condition that affects a horse's hooves and ability to walk. It is caused by inflammation in the laminae that hold the hoof bone in place within the hoof. This leads to pain, lameness, and can in severe cases result in the detachment of the hoof bone from the hoof.

What is laminitis?

Laminitis is a very painful condition, and as horse owners, we must do everything we can to prevent our horses from suffering from it. While laminitis is often associated with grass and pasture, there are several other causes not addressed in this answer.

Common symptoms

Common symptoms of laminitis in horses include lameness, tenderness in the hooves, increased pulse in the hooves, difficulty in moving, a characteristic stance where the horse leans back to alleviate pain, warmth in the hooves, and generally restless behavior. Early detection and treatment are crucial. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your horse has laminitis.

Causes of laminitis

Causes of laminitis are usually due to an imbalance in the horse's diet, especially overconsumption of sugar and starch. This can result in inflammation in the laminae holding the hoof bone in place within the hoof, causing pain and difficulty in walking. Factors such as obesity, hormonal imbalances, and elevated levels of insulin can also increase the risk of laminitis.

5 common causes of laminitis among horses:

  1. Overconsumption of sugar and starch in the diet: A diet too rich in sugar and starch, such as excessive concentrates or access to too much high-sugar content pasture grass, can increase the risk of laminitis.
  2. Obesity or overweight: Overweight horses have a higher risk of developing laminitis due to increased pressure on the hooves, which can impair blood flow and cause inflammation in the laminae.
  3. Hormonal imbalances: Disorders in hormone balance, such as insulin resistance or Cushing's disease, can increase the risk of laminitis by affecting the horse's metabolism and blood circulation.
  4. Impaired blood circulation to the hooves: Situations such as shock, strenuous exercise, or diseases affecting blood circulation can lead to insufficient oxygen and nutrients supplied to the hooves, increasing the risk of laminitis.
  5. Overexertion or sudden load on the hooves: Rapid transitions from standing to intense exercise or prolonged periods on hard surfaces can increase the risk of laminitis by overloading the hooves. This can lead to stress and inflammation in the laminae.

Treatment of laminitis 

Treatment in horses requires immediate action and veterinary intervention. It includes reducing inflammation with anti-inflammatory medications, relieving the hooves with special shoes to reduce pressure, and a diet change with low sugar and starch content. Regular care and monitoring are important to ensure the horse's recovery and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Preventing laminitis in horses

Providing horses with the right diet is crucial for their well-being and health. A well-balanced diet with limited access to sugar and starch prevents various health problems, including gastrointestinal issues such as laminitis. Regular exercise and weight monitoring are also important measures to reduce the risk of laminitis. For horse owners, understanding this disease is valuable in being able to prevent and treat it quickly.

In summary, preventive measures and early detection of laminitis are crucial for the horse's well-being. By providing the horse with the right diet and regular care, you as a horse owner can help minimize the risk of this painful disease and ensure a good quality of life for your horse.

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