How to Cure Laminitis

Written by sarah terry
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Laminitis, which is most common in horses and cattle, is a painful condition that is difficult to treat. Two interlocking layers of laminae (connective tissues) attach the hoof wall and pedal bone. When these tissues become inflamed or otherwise disturbed, the pedal bone tears away from the hoof wall. Many causes of laminitis exist, including grain-ingestion overload, obesity and lack of exercise, retained placenta, Salmonella enteritis, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism and corticosteroid therapies. Recovery from laminitis is a slow process, but with proper care, a horse can regain its health and vitality.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Liquid paraffin
  • Anti-toxic drugs
  • Special shoes

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  1. 1

    Look for the signs and symptoms of laminitis. In acute cases of laminitis, the horse will be unwilling to move its front feet forward, and possibly the hind feet as well. Watch to see if the horse shifts its weight to its back limbs or is unwilling to lift its front feet at all. Check for heat in the feet and limbs, including an increase in the digital pulses and swelling at the coronet. Also check for symptoms of chronic cases, which include rings in the hoof wall, bruises on the soles and stiffness.

  2. 2

    Respond quickly to early signs of laminitis. Contact your veterinarian immediately and place your horse in a deep-bedded stable. To prevent damage, don't walk your horse.

  3. 3

    Follow your vet's instructions. The vet may recommend doses of liquid paraffin, which will treat laminitis caused by a sudden excessive feeding on grain. Your vet may administer other antitoxic drugs, as well as drugs to relieve pain and improve circulation to the feet. If recommended, provide special shoes to support the horse's feet. Your vet will also assess whether the horse's case of laminitis is severe enough to require surgery.

  4. 4

    Provide diligent aftercare. Give your horse plenty of time to recover from laminitis. If necessary, repeat X-rays and have the horse re-shod. If your horse doesn't fully recover, it could be susceptible to repeat episodes of laminitis and even permanent lameness.

  5. 5

    Start riding your horse again when your veterinarian says it's OK. When you can begin riding again depends on how quickly the horse received treatment and how severe the laminitis was. Wait at least eight months to ride again if the horse experienced rotation, meaning if the pedal bone in the hoof tore away from the hoof wall and rotated. At least two month's rest is appropriate for cases in which no rotation occurred.

Tips and warnings

  • Ask your vet about herbal supplements to help treat laminitis. Many horse owners have found herbal supplements, such as Anicripple, helpful for combating infection, toxicity and pain, as well as for improving circulation and healing.
  • Use frog support for the feet with a roll of bandages, Lily pad or heart bar shoe.
  • Don't force exercise. Exercise won't actually help to cure the laminitis and may actually tear the remaining laminae.

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