As you have surely heard, Jimmy was euthanised after he developed severe laminitis. Laminitis refers to inflammation of the tissue connecting the hoof capsule to the pedal bone (bottom bone in the foot). A complicated and interrelated set of events occurs, which if severe enough can result in rotation and/or displacement of the pedal bone as depicted below. If not addressed the pedal bone can penetrate through the sole, a life ending injury.
Figure 1 Normal foot Figure 2 Pedal bone rotation
Horses at Risk
- Horses grazing lush green pastures or on high grain diets
- Horses with a bacterial septicaemia (infection), particularly of the gut or uterus
- Horses with an unrelated lameness causing uneven weight bearing on the front feet (eg spider bite in Jimmy’s case)
- Horses who are overconditioned (fat)
- Horses with pituitary dysfunction (eg Cushing’s Disease)
What might you see?
Horses with laminitis generally present with a moderate to severe forelimb lameness. Affected horses may stand with their forelimbs outstretched and their hindlimbs tucked under their abdomen to take more of their body weight. Other signs include weight shifting on their front feet, reluctance to walk on firm surfaces and increased time spent lying down.
What can your vet do?
We can identify the cause of laminitis, alleviate pain and inflammation, stabilise the pedal bone and implement management strategies to help reduce the chance of recurrence. We may also want to radiograph (x-ray) the feet to accurately assess the degree of damage and recommend corrective shoeing techniques to your farrier.
What can you do to prevent laminitis in your horse?
Work in conjunction with your veterinarian to ensure your horse is kept in a moderate condition score and nutrition is appropriate. Get their feet regularly trimmed by a qualified farrier and slowly introduce any dietary changes when required.