Laminitis Investigations

Getting a diagnosis of laminitis can be very worrying. Our equine vets are highly skilled and experienced in diagnosing and treating laminitis in horses, and can help you manage, or ideally prevent this condition.

Contact us about laminitis


What is laminitis in horses?

Laminitis is a painful and crippling condition in horses. Once diagnosed, horses are prone to repeat episodes. The condition can be managed but not cured, and can be fatal in extreme cases. This is why prevention is so important.

Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae of the foot – the soft tissue structures that attach the coffin/pedal bone of the foot to the hoof wall.

Inflammation and damage to the laminae cause severe pain and instability of the coffin bone in the hoof. In some cases, it can cause complete separation and rotation of the pedal bone within the hoof wall.

All four feet can be affected by laminitis, however, the forelimbs are more frequently and more severely affected than the hindlimbs.


Symptoms of laminitis:

Being able to spot the signs of laminitis early on can reduce your horse’s discomfort and the severity of the condition.


Acute (initial) symptoms
  • Reluctance to move
  • Rock weight back and forth off the affected limbs
  • Difficulty in allowing you to pick up one limb if the other is affected
  • Lying down more
  • The hoof wall and coronary band around it may be warm to touch
  • Pain over the toe area
  • Digital pulses are strong and rapid – a vet can demonstrate this


Chronic symptoms – long-term inflammation & structural changes
  • Restricted movement in front legs – may place more weight on back legs
  • ‘Laminitic rings’ on the surface of affected hooves – may correspond to previous episodes
  • Hoof wall becomes a dish/slipper shape with long toes
  • A bulge in the sole corresponding to the rotated pedal bone

Call our vets as soon as possible if you spot the signs above on 01491 651479.


Causes of laminitis in horses

A common cause of laminitis is spring grazing. Typically, during the spring months after bouts of rain, the soluble carbohydrate content in grasses and clovers increases. When eaten, metabolic changes occur that alter blood flow to the laminae of the foot.


Other causes include:
  • Overfeeding overweight ponies
  • Over-feeding/engorgement of grain
  • Retained placenta in post-foaling mares
  • Septicaemic conditions
  • Obesity (a common predisposing factor in laminitic ponies)
  • Trauma from excess work in unshod horses on hard ground
  • Trauma from over-the-top hoof trimming
  • Lameness which prevents weight bearing in one leg leading to laminitis in a supporting leg


Laminitis investigations

Laminitis workups can be time intensive as our team need to investigate the cause of the condition and the severity.

Once diagnosed, our vets may need to put an aggressive treatment plan in place to ensure the best outcome for your horse. Contact us for more advice or to book a visit from our equine vets.

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