Information About Laminitis

Laminitis is a word that strikes dread and of fear in most equine enthusiasts.  Since little is understood about that actual cause(s) of this condition, research in ongoing worldwide to learn how to not only prevent it, but also how to effectively treat it. The article, “Managing Acute and Chronic Laminitis” by Nancy S. Loving, DVM, outlines a Laminitis Table Discussion that was held at the 2007 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention in Orlando, Fla.

This discussion, led by Jim Belknap, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, an associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences from The Ohio State University’s Galbreath Equine Center, and Rob Boswell, DVM, a practitioner with Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, Fla., revealed that research has shown laminitis to be mainly an intense inflammatory injury of the foot and not solely a blood flow problem, as previously believed. Because of this, new treatment protocols are being tested and implemented:

Belknap is an advocate of very high levels of anti-inflammatory medications (500 mg three times per day of flunixin meglumine, or Banamine) within the first 72 hours of insult (a cause of laminitis) or onset. He said he realized this high dose is more likely to lead to some gastrointestinal (GI) ulceration and, thus, it should not be used on every horse. But he stressed that it is critical to get foot inflammation under control, so ulceration might be the lesser of two evils. Once the acute stage has settled down, it might be desirable to switch to phenylbutazone for better pain relief.

In addition to drug therapies, cold therapy is also being used to treat the high level of inflammation:

Ice might be beneficial for the same reason that hypothermia is used in some types of inflammatory injury in human medicine: hypothermia is anti-inflammatory and slows the metabolic rate (i.e., enzyme activity) of injured tissue. There could be great benefit to immediately ice the feet to decrease activity of deleterious enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases and to decrease inflammation.

In addition to the various treatments, the article also goes on to discuss hoof support for a laminitic horse with shoeing techniques outlined for both the early stages and chronic cases.

For more interesting information about this condition, check out the whole article on  

2 Responses to Information About Laminitis

  1. KarenL says:

    A great site about laminitis/feeding laminitic horses is Katy Watts, a researcher, has done a great service pulling a lot of info together in a very reasonable format with lots of practical advice on care & feeding- there’s still alot of bad/old info out there- veterinarians included!

  2. Black Eye Beth says:

    Thanks for posting the link, KarenL.

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