Every year we see the same problem: equines with symptoms which are consistent with laminitis – not only with inexperienced owners, often with horse owners who have had horses for years and would therefore consider themselves to be experienced, who identify laminitis in their equine, but their knowledge of the condition may have been passed on through generations or learnt years ago, and they have not re-educated themselves with more up-to-date science of the condition. In turn they then fail to understand the needs of the animal once it has the condition.
It is important to remember only a vet can diagnose, and in turn treat, any condition.
To try to be as simple as possible about the condition, if laminitis is suspected there are two principles that owners need to understand:
- Laminitis is PAINFUL, therefore it needs a vet to diagnose and in turn medicate correctly to ensure the pain levels are managed and the equine is given the best chance of a successful outcome. Bute is a POM-V and therefore must be prescribed by a vet for the individual horse.
- The internal structures of the hoof are unstable, which is why they NEED a farrier who understands the foot and what support it needs.
These two experts are who an owner needs to consult when laminitis is suspected. We understand even the best of owners can get caught out with the condition, it’s what that owner does once their equine has it that I find needs highlighting and more education.
The other reason veterinary intervention is needed is due to the causation of the condition: a large proportion of diagnosed cases are caused by an endocrine disorder, therefore an owner needs a vet to diagnose and successfully treat to try to prevent it recurring.
That all said, prevention is better than cure, and sadly today’s society has become too accustomed to seeing fat as normal. I often get called to thin dogs, cats and horses only to arrive and find an animal which is actually in lovely fit condition. Overweight horses are far more likely to get laminitis than those kept in a fit body condition. We also often fail to recognise a true reflection of our own animals’ body conditions due to wearing rose-coloured spectacles. There are many websites with guidance on how to body condition score your horse, and Glasgow University has an interactive body condition scoring app that horse owners can download to use to identify and correctly body score their equines to help keep our horses healthy.
Inspector & Equine Officer West Mercia
The RSPA Veterinary Team sent us this to highlight the issue:
“Laminitis is an issue that our officers deal with every year and we want to raise awareness and understanding, not just in relation to identifying the condition, but also what owners need to be doing to meet their animal’s needs once it’s been diagnosed.
“When equines have symptoms consistent with laminitis, or when laminitis is suspected, it’s extremely important that a vet is called to make a diagnosis and administer appropriate treatment.
“Laminitis is an extremely painful condition and veterinary intervention is crucial to ensure pain levels are managed and the condition is treated for the best chance of a successful outcome. A large proportion of cases can be caused by a hormonal disorder, which again, requires diagnosis and treatment by a vet to try to prevent reoccurence.
“The internal structures of a horse’s hoof are unstable, so it’s also vitally important when dealing with laminitis that owners consult a farrier who understands the foot and what support it needs.
“It’s also important to recognise that overweight horses are far more likely to get laminitis than those kept in a fit body condition. There are many websites with guidance on how to score your horse’s body condition, including a Glasgow University app that owners can download to help them keep their horses healthy.”
If you have any concerns about your horse and suspect they may have or be prone to laminitis you must CALL YOUR VET! We cannot stress that highly enough. Only a vet can diagnosis a horse’s illness.
To learn more about laminitis, click here to watch a webinar by one of our vets, Dr Kirstie Pickles – it is very informative and after the webinar Kirstie goes on to answer lots of our members’ questions – which are printed at the bottom.