What is Laminitis in Horses?
Laminitis also known as Founder and Fever in the Feet is a metabolic disease that affects the whole body of a horse, but the main symptoms manifest in the feet causing inflammation and a separation of the laminae from the hoof and the pedal bone. This causes pain and discomfort to the horse and can end up being fatal.
What causes Laminitis?
Laminitis is caused by any condition that causes septicaemia or toxaemia in the body. The most common is when there is an overload in the digestive tract of quickly fermenting carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are:
- sugars and fructans from lush grass
- starch from cereals
But can also be caused by retained placenta after foaling, excess weight, incorrect foot trimming and trauma to the feet. It can also occur secondary to colic, enteritis, excessive use of corticosteroids or medication.
What happens in the body of a horse with Laminitis?
When there is an overload of carbohydrates in the gut, this causes an increase in lactic acid producing bacteria, they kill the normal bacteria of the gut system, which leads to damage to the gut lining. The dead bacteria cause endotoxins, these penetrate the wall of the gut along with the lactic acid, and then travel through the body. The endotoxins increase blood pressure, which causes the blood to by-pass the lower part of the foot, the laminae doesn’t get enough oxygen or ammino acids so starts to breakdown. Since there is not enough blood flow to the foot, blood and serum accumulate between the hoof and the bone, causing the laminae to tear away from the wall of the hoof, as shown below. This causes the pedal bone to rotate downwards and press into the sole of the foot.
What are the signs?
All feet can be affected but it mainly involves the front feet being sore, this is due to the fact that most of the horse’s weight is carried by the front feet, but the back feet can also be inflamed. Because the feet are sore the horse will not want to walk on them, will take small steps and may appear stiff and sore. They may be depressed or lethargic, may lean on their back feet to take the weight off the front, and may lie down more. A horse can suffer from acute or chronic laminitis.
How to prevent it.
- Keeping your horse at a good weight relevant to their age, breed and activity level.
- Choosing the right feed and monitoring how your horse is doing on it.
- Slowly introduce new feeds, so you don’t get a carbo overload.
- Alfalfa is a great digestive aid, by adding this to the feed; you can help increase digestive function and health.
- Managing pasture to reduce the chances of laminitis, sugars and fructans are at their highest in autumn and spring.
Ways to treat Laminitis Naturally.
Our Eponacare range has the remedy Lammi which is homeopathic and been designed to support your horses immune response to laminitis. Lammi includes remedies that help with the toxicity and inflammation of laminitis, increasing digestion, blood flow and reducing inflammation, making it a great help with this debilitating disease.