Not All Laminitis Is Created Equal

A few weeks ago, I wrote a bit about endocrinopathic laminitis and how to better manage a metabolic horse. In those kind of cases, diet and careful management of metabolic issues are paramount to ensure a healthy horse and keep laminitis at bay. In fact, when I come across an acute case of metabolic laminitis, I am usually confident the horse will be able to become comfortable fairly easily with proper management, and even live a long productive life if managed well.

That being said, what about these horses that just don’t seem to respond to everything we are doing? What about chronic endocrinopathic laminitics that weren’t caught early, and now are struggling with long term pathology and internal damage?

What about founder that is caused by a systemic inflammatory response (SIRS)- such as infection, fever, retained placenta, toxicity, etc? And how do we prevent founder in cases of non-weight bearing injury, where the excess load on the “sound” foot stops the proper perfusion or blood flow in the capsule?

While we as hoofcare providers focus so much on proper nutrition and hoofcare in cases of metabolic laminitis, not all kinds of laminitis respond to this treatment.

SIRS related laminitis is caused by the blood pumping these toxins into the hoof and causing lamellar breakdown. In this instance, diet is not going to fix the problem (although I DO advocate nutritional changes to every rehab horse I see). Dr. Andrew Van Eps and Dr. Chris Pollitt have done research into cryotherapy, or distal limb cooling, in these cases. Does it likely inhibit some natural circulation in these cases? Probably. Is that a bad thing, when the blood is circulating toxins? Probably not.

On the other end of the spectrum, supporting limb laminitis is from LACK of perfusion in the hoof capsule, due to a non-weight bearing injury. Blood perfuses in the hoof through load cycling- or lifting and weighting the foot (movement!). Constant loading inhibits this blood flow. Increasing perfusion in these cases in important to prevent laminitis.

Dr. Debra Taylor of Twin Creeks Veterinary Services in Alabama focuses her practice on podiatry, and has done extensive work on laminitic cases, and she agreed to talk to me about these three main causes of laminitis, and how to approach them.

You can here the podcast episode here, or on your favorite podcast app under “The Humble Hoof.” You can learn more about Dr. Taylor and her practice here.

Dr. Taylor is also available for consultations on cases, for a fee:  

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