What to do if laminitis strikes

By Your Horse

Veterinary Advice

13 April 2012 11:28

If your horse develops laminitis, make sure you follow these pointers...

1. Laminitis is an emergency, so call your vet the moment you suspect an attack, but be wary of moving your horse if he’s in acute pain. Those delicate structures within the hoof that have been weakened may be damaged further if you force your horse to walk, so wait for your vet – and his army of painkillers – to arrive. In extreme cases he may be able to perform a foot nerve block, but in the meantime he may advise you to apply emergency first-aid in the form of a soft pad or cotton wool under the frog, held in place with a bandage, until he arrives.

2. Once your vet arrives, he’ll administer anti-inflammatories for pain relief, and take X-rays to identify the extent of the damage if he suspects founder. He may suggest additional measures to support the foot while it heals, for instance glue-on supportive shoes.

3. Lengthy box rest for at least four weeks or more is the next step, ideally on a shavings bed or a mix of shavings and sand that’s several centimetres deep.

4. Depending on the possible cause of the attack, your vet will advise you on the best way to aid healing, but as the vast majority of cases are caused by the horse being overweight, he may well ask you to implement a low-calorie, high-forage weight loss plan.