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Hoof care is of the utmost importance when owning horses. You must be aware of different hoof related concerns and problems, such as laminitis, one of the most common causes of lameness and disability in horses. Laminitis is often referred to as "Founder," and it can cause lameness when left untreated. It is caused by circulatory changes in the hoof causing inflammation and weakening of the sensitive laminal structures and bonds within the horses hoof; the subsequent damage to the hoof tissue could be severe resulting in problems such as sinking of the pedal bone. It is a very traumatic and painful disease that mainly affects the horse's front hooves but can occur in the hind feet as well.
Some of the symptoms of laminitis range from:
- Trouble with walking and turning.
- Standing uncomfortably with more weight on its hind legs.
- Shifting weight from one leg to the other.
- Depression at the coronary band.
Causes of Laminitis
Several factors can lead to laminitis; the most common being fed an improper diet. When a horse eats too much grain or is switched to high energy legume diet, the risk for laminitis increases. Horses going through systemic illnesses are also prone to developing laminitis. The impact of excessive weight on a limb, typical in cases of severe lameness or after fracture type of injury, also leads to an increased predisposition to this hoof condition. Additional causes of laminitis include working unshod horses on hard, unforgiving surfaces, allowing them to become obese, or trimming its hooves too short.
The best method for treating laminitis is to get your horse on a carefully monitored, long-term management program. Your goal should be to help prevent the further development of laminitis as well as to reduce the pain associated with this destructive disease.
Other methods of treatment include:
- Review your horse’s diet with your veterinarian. Your horse will probably need to be kept off the pasture and instead, fed a diet of hay.
- Stable your horse on clean, deep, shavings.
- Oversee medication as prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Begin a feeding routine that implements hoof care supplements. For example, Feedmark Prolamin is a balanced combination of hoof-healthy nutrients developed to aid in the recovery from laminitis. Another popular supplement is Figuerola LaminaSaver, which helps your horse rebuild and regenerate tissues and bones damaged by laminitis.
- Frequent trimming of the hooves, about once a month, by a farrier will help your horse feel more comfortable. Trimming of the hooves also provides additional support to the coffin bone and laminae.
At one time, laminitis was thought to be a hopeless disease to correct; the only available option for a horse owner was to euthanize the horse and prevent further suffering. With advancements in veterinarian medicine, newer methods of laminitis treatment are showing encouraging results, and some horses are now living productive and satisfying lives.