Laminitis – A really big pain in the hoof

Posted: December 6th, 2007, by Melanie Merrow

Laminitis – A medical explanation

  • separation of the hoof wall
  • Rotation of the pedal bone
  • Penitration of the coffin bone through the sole

Early symptoms of laminitis

  • Increased temperature of the wall, sole and/or coronary band of the foot.
  • Hoof deformation
  • A pounding pulse in the digital palmar artery.

Late stage symptoms of laminitis

  • Anxiety
  • Visible trembling
  • Increased vital signs and body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Flared Nostrils
  • Walking very tenderly, as if walking on egg shells
  • Repeated “easing” of affected feet
  • The horse standing in a “founder stance” (the horse will attempt to decrease the load on the affected feet). If it has laminitis in the front hooves, it will bring its hindlegs underneath its body and put its forelegs out in front called “pointing”
  • Tendency to lie down, whenever possible or, if extreme, to remain lying down.

How to diagnose Laminitis?

The sooner the diagnosis is made the faster the treatment and the recovery process can begin. Diagnosing Laminitis is the main problem since the general problem often starts somewhere else in the horses body. Symptoms start with very small changes in your horses hooves, keeping current records and even photos of your horses feet is a good preventive measure. The current prevailing theory as to the most common cause of Laminitis cases is that the farrier. Many farriers will cut out the sole, frog and bars giving little relevance to the position of the internal bones and cartaliges.

  • The frog has the most pain receptors in the hoof
  • leads to horse tip-toe walking if cut by farrier incorrectly over a period of time
  • lack of movement – horses need 16-20 hours of movement
  • Carbohydrate overload
  • Insulin resistance, Sweet feeds, processed feeds, over suplementing
  • Nitrogen compound overload
  • Hard flat ground
  • Lush pasture
  • Frosted grass
  • Freezing or overheating of the feet
  • Untreated infections
  • Colic
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Peripheral Cushing’s disease
  • Retained placenta
  • Drug reactions
  • Exposure to agrichemicals

A lot of the new research happening is that the diet of a horse is more likely the cause. has an excellent article about new research on sugar and starch in a horses diet (free registration required to view). It focuses on “a breakthrough in Laminitis research by a team of scientists at University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues, was published in August 2007 The Veterinary Journal”.