We are a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) approved equine hospital.
Laminitis is an incredibly painful condition that affects the feet of ponies, horses and donkeys. It is inflammation of the laminae the small ‘finger-like’ structures that connect the hoof wall to the pedal bone, the main bone in the hoof.
Inflammation of the laminae leads to their breakdown, often resulting in rotation and sinking of the pedal bone. This rotation in some cases can be so severe that the pedal bone comes out of the bottom of the hoof. It is a serious condition which is often recurrent and can lead to euthanasia.
Laminitis usually presents with lameness that affects two or more limbs. Horses and ponies will often shift their bodies backwards to take the weight off their painful toes. Lying down is a common symptom, which also allows weight to be taken off the feet.
Due to the inflammation in the feet, they will usually be hot and have increased digital pulses. Lameness is usually worse on hard ground and on the turn and there will often be weight shifting on different limbs.
Some early or mild cases will initially show as a shortening of their normal stride or what may be described as a “footy” short action. With long term laminitis or subclinical laminitis (no obvious lameness) the hooves will develop diverging hoof growth lines.
Laminitis is classified into three groups of underlying causes:
A diagnosis of laminitis is usually based on clinical history and a clinical exam, with the typical symptoms listed above including pain on hoof testers.
Radiographs are very helpful to assess the degree of rotation and or sinking of the pedal bone, they are also helpful to help guide trimming and shoeing of the feet.
Laminitis is a medical emergency and you should contact your vet if you suspect your horse or pony has laminitis. Below are some of the treatments your vet will advise:
The chances of your horse, pony or donkey getting laminitis can be reduced in several ways: