Laminitis – a crippling deadly disease for horses, ponies and donkeys

Horse with laminitis

It is the diagnosis horse owners dread – your horse has laminitis. Prevention is the best way to approach this disease as there is no true cure. There are, however, better treatments now than every before. Laminitis’s painful swelling can still be a death sentence. ~ HfH

From: Animed Veterinary Hospital, Shedfield UK

Horse with laminitis

Horse with laminitis

Laminitis is one of the most serious, crippling diseases of horses, ponies and donkeys. Severe and recurring cases of laminitis can reduce a horse’s usefulness or result in the horse being destroyed to prevent further suffering. Treatment can require a lot of time and money (whether successful or not) and requires a good deal of energy from the carer for an extended period of time.

Recent research has shown a strong association between the high insulin levels seen in most ponies with Cushing’s Disease (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Disease (PPID)) and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and susceptibility to laminitis; indeed it is now thought that the majority of laminitis cases are PPID or EMS individuals. There is an extremely effective treatment now available for PPID. Please contact for details.

What is Lamnitis?

Laminitis is a painful inflammatory condition of the tissues (laminae) that bond the hoof wall to the pedal (coffin) bone in the horses hoof. It can affect any horse, of any age or sex, at any time of the year. Although it is traditionally considered a disease of fat ponies, laminitis can be triggered by a variety of metabolic or physical causes in any horse as discussed in ‘Causes of laminitis’.

Laminitis is caused by weakening of the supporting lamina within the hoof, leading to painful tearing of the support structure suspending the pedal bone within the hoof. If laminitis is not treated promptly, the pedal bone drops (these cases are described as “sinkers”) or the pedal bone can rotate downwards.

Laminitis and Founder are not the same. Laminitis can, but does not always result in Founder. The word Founder describes the sinking of the horse’s foot. The sinking occurs when the laminar bond fails.

Continue Reading

1 Comment
  • I lost my first horse to laminitis. Despite heroic efforts to save him, he foundered, rotated, and dropped in all four. I let him go the next day. It was the hardest thing to watch him go through all that pain, just heart crushing, and it happened fairly fast and the idea of what he would have to endure in an attempt to get him even pasture sound was more than I could ask the poor guy to go through for me. We later found out he had Cushings, but by then it was too late. So thank you for reminding everyone about this horrible disease.

    February 24, 2015