Once you have been able to identify and understand laminitis (to find out more read Part 1 of this article series), you have a much better chance at rehabilitating your horse/pony and helping them recover.
Many owners start to worry about this serious condition when the weather gets hotter and the grass becomes more lush. However as long as all preventative measures are taken and the horse is fed on the correct diet, the risk factors for contracting laminitis decreases.
The Treatment Options Available
- Call a vet as soon as you think you have spotted the symptoms of laminitis. Or the horse has relapsed- they can advise treatment plans, take x-rays and provide pain relief
- Move the horse/pony to a deep bedded stable to provide the hooves with support
- Remove any high sugar feeds/treats/licks
- Feed a diet suitable for a laminitic
- Investigate whether the horse has another underlying issue such as Cushings
- Use a paddock suitable for laminitics with less grass and possibly a grazing muzzle
- Add supplements to the diet which will support the horse/pony’s recovery, such as NAF Five Star Laminaze which can be used throughout the year to help prevent future bouts
- Remedial shoeing- your farrier can advise you on the types of shoeing available, such as heart-bars
- Equally the horse may be barefoot- take the advice of your trimmer on balancing the foot properly, possible use of pads or boots
- If feet are in poor condition, use a hoof care supplement throughout the year to help grow healthier hooves during recovery like Equimins Hoof Mender Powder
- Possible surgery may be needed, if an acute case has foundered
- NSAIDS can be given on recommendation of vet for pain relief and reduction of inflammation
So how do we prevent the risk of our horses/ponies getting laminitis?
- Avoid turnout during high starch estimates in the grass.
- Continually monitor weight throughout the year- consider learning about Body Condition Scoring. Monitor your horse’s diet carefully. Feed in accordance to their workload and type.
- Dieting horses/ponies should be given 1.5% of their body weight in food- this includes grass, hay and any hard feed given.
- Feed little and often to mimic the horse’s natural feeding behaviour- do not leave for long periods of time without food, even if on a diet. Consider double netting or soaking/steaming hay so the horse/pony can eat for as long as possible during the day.
- Never starve the horse/pony- this can lead to serious conditions such as hyperlipaemia which may be an even worse outcome than before.
- Avoid feeding hard feed at all unless absolutely necessary- most horses can thrive on a forage only diet.
- If you are going to use feed for condition, consider something like Fibre-Beet which is a high fibre, low starch mash with added alfalfa to help digestibility and put weight on without fizziness/extra sugar (Available in-store only).
- If your horse needs to put on weight, look into feeding high oil foods rather than high starch, as horses actually utilise oil better and it has less health risks for them- such as linseed oil.
- Maintain a good exercise regime– do not allow the horse/pony to become overweight.
- Maintain a healthy farrier/foot trimming regime.
- Do not make rapid changes in the diet.
- Avoid unnecessary trauma to the feet e.g. minimising trotting on the roads.
- Consider a hoof supplement which contains biotin, such as Farriers Formula or NAF Five Star PROFEET, to encourage healthy hoof condition.
Body and Weight Scoring:
It is always better to prevent laminitis than have to cure it. If left untreated, laminitis could cause permanent damage which may result in either lifelong lameness or possibly euthanasia. By following the correct guidelines of feeding and management, your horse may be at less of a risk of coming down with this devastating illness; once a horse has suffered with laminitis, it will be more prone to it for the rest of its life.
Do you have any experience of dealing with Laminitis? What was the outcome, and how do you try to manage it?