Laminitis in Horses

Laminitis in Horses: Preventative Measures and Treatments

by | Jun 19, 2023 | Equine Health, Equine Treatment

A key element to ensuring the health and longevity of our equine companions is our understanding of the various conditions that can affect them. One such condition, laminitis, requires a particular depth of knowledge. This often painful and potentially debilitating affliction can significantly impact a horse’s quality of life. However, through appropriate preventative measures and carefully selected treatments, laminitis can be effectively managed, allowing our horses to lead fulfilling, comfortable lives.

Understanding Laminitis: A Brief Overview

Laminitis is a serious and intricate condition affecting the highly sensitive laminae tissue within a horse’s hoof, leading to pain and swelling. The hoof, a marvel of natural engineering, hosts an array of structures integral to the horse’s health and mobility. The laminae, which provide a crucial link between the hoof wall and the underlying coffin bone, are essential. When inflammation disrupts this connection, a condition known as laminitis ensues, resulting in severe discomfort and potentially lasting damage to the hoof structure.

From a pathophysiological perspective, laminitis involves an impairment of blood flow to the laminae, causing tissue damage and severe pain. The study of laminitis is complex, but resources like the book “Equine Laminitis” offer valuable insights and are beneficial for horse owners seeking to understand this condition at a deeper level.

The Causes of Laminitis in Horses

Numerous factors can induce laminitis, ranging from dietary triggers to stress, underlying illnesses, and even genetic predisposition. Some horses, for instance, are susceptible to endocrine disorders like Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Cushing’s disease, which can lead to laminitis. Situational stresses, such as severe illness or sudden changes in weight bearing due to injury, can also initiate the onset of laminitis.

In many cases, diet plays a critical role. Horses that consume excessive amounts of non-structural carbohydrates (found in rich spring grasses or grain-based feeds) may experience a rapid fermentation in the hindgut, leading to the production of toxins that can trigger a laminitic episode. Products like the “V-POINT – Laminitis Ease” can help reduce toxins.

Preventing Laminitis: Diet and Nutrition

The cornerstone of laminitis prevention lies in managing a horse’s diet and nutrition carefully. Horses should maintain a balanced diet that moderates their intake of non-structural carbohydrates. Implementing a feeding regime that includes controlled access to pasture, especially during periods of lush growth, can be beneficial. For horses prone to laminitis, feeds such as “Purina WellSolve Low Starch” are designed with lower levels of starch and sugars, making them a safer choice.

Additionally, the use of dietary supplements such as “Heiro for Horses”, a natural supplement designed to help maintain healthy insulin levels and support laminae health, can further aid in prevention. However, any dietary changes should be made gradually and under the guidance of an equine nutritionist or a vet to ensure they are safe and beneficial for the horse.

The Diagnosis of Laminitis: Procedures and Process

Determining whether a horse is suffering from laminitis requires keen observation and professional diagnosis. Common signs include a shortened stride, reluctance to move, and a noticeable shift of weight to the back legs to alleviate pressure on the front feet. Some horses may also exhibit a stronger than usual digital pulse in the foot and show heat in the hooves. Utilizing a hoof tester like the “Tough1 Professional Hoof Tester” can help identify the sensitive areas, indicating a potential problem.

Veterinarians typically diagnose laminitis through a combination of physical examination, assessment of clinical signs, and diagnostic imaging techniques like radiographs. This process allows for the identification of any alterations to the positioning of the coffin bone within the hoof, a common complication of severe or chronic laminitis.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Laminitis

Treatment for laminitis primarily focuses on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and correcting any dietary imbalances. Pain management often involves the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as phenylbutazone, or “bute,” but these should only be administered under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Good hoof care is crucial in managing laminitis. This can involve therapeutic shoeing or trimming to redistribute weight away from the affected areas, and padding can provide further relief. Products such as “EasyCare Easyboot Cloud Hoof Boot” can offer crucial support during this healing phase.

Lifestyle modifications like restricting pasture access and ensuring the horse’s environment is as stress-free as possible can also be beneficial. Remember that laminitic horses may require adjustments in their exercise routine; an equine specialist or a vet should guide these changes.

With appropriate treatment, the prognosis for a horse with laminitis can be hopeful, especially if the condition is caught early and managed well.


Understanding, preventing, and managing laminitis is essential to ensure the welfare of our equine companions. Regular veterinary care and vigilance about possible signs of laminitis are our best lines of defence. Through careful dietary management, professional hoof care, and a commitment to the wellbeing of our horses, we can significantly lessen the impact of this condition.

In the face of laminitis, remember to remain hopeful. Advancements in equine medicine are continually improving our knowledge and ability to manage this disease. Even as we must confront the reality of laminitis, we can also recognize and appreciate the strides made in equine health and care, leading us towards a future where laminitis can be effectively prevented and treated.

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Issabella Mitchel</a>

Issabella Mitchel

Isabella is a remarkable equestrian and racehorse trainer, hailing from the horse capital of the world, Kentucky. Growing up in the heart of bluegrass country, she developed a deep affinity for horses from an early age.

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