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Ask a Vet

Chronic Laminitis

6 June, 2013
Topic: Hoof and Foot Lameness
Answer Provided by: Mike Pownall DVM

Question:

What could be causing chronic laminitis in my warmblood?

Answer:

Chronic laminitis can have numerous causes. In warmbloods I often see this condition as a result of excess weight, improperly applied horseshoes, trimming too short, poor hoof conformation, or a hind limb lameness/stiffness that is forcing the horse to carry more weight in the front end. Rarely are bacteria or viruses triggers for repeated episodes of laminitis. They usually cause a sudden onset type of laminitis. It seems like you have addressed the weight issue with a strict diet. Has your farrier offered an opinion on a cause? They can be a great resource because of their knowledge of your horse’s hooves. Is your horse barefoot? Some thin-soled horses become laminitic if trimmed too short. Have you had repeat x-rays taken? Serial radiographs are helpful in determining the degree of rotation if any and the condition of the coffin bone. Horses with chronic laminitis can develop changes in the condition of the coffin bone that may predispose them to a constant lameness. Certain types of shoes and pads can help treat this condition. I would certainly suggest that you ask your veterinarian to assess the hind limbs of your horse to rule out a source of lameness from that region.

Unfortunately, we never learn the cause of laminitis in some horses. We are left to treat them through proper shoeing and trimming, nutrition and controlled exercise and turnout.

Mike Pownall DVM