Dr. Debra Taylor, an associate professor at Auburn University and equine podiatry veterinarian, is working to educate horse owners on early signs of laminitis in order to prevent this painful disease.
Taylor, a member of the International Equine Veterinarian Hall Of Fame, emphasizes the importance of taking preventative measures to prevent laminitis. Client education, a diet that limits sugars and starches found in grains and grass, and exercise are all important for preventing laminitis.
It is also vital to look for warning signs of the disease so that it can be treated early should it develop.
Common warning signs horse owners and farriers should look out for include sore hooves, white line disease, lethargy, weight gain and lying down excessively.
Taylor and her team work from a mobile unit, which is key for treating horses with laminitis. Depending on the condition of their hooves and the severity of their case, horses may not be able to travel to receive the care they need.
Many believe that once a horse gets laminitis, it can never be cured. However, Taylor says that is not necessarily the case.
“Some horses can make a complete recovery. Complete communication between the veterinarians, owner and farrier is necessary for the best outcome,” she says.
Taylor has even had success treating a horse with a severe case of laminitis.
She has been treating the horse, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred, since 2015 and has made great progress in reducing its pain.
“We put her in a treatment and rehabilitation program. Eventually we got her in good enough shape to go home, but field treatment continued, working with the horse’s primary veterinarian,” she says.
Treatment for laminitis can take years, but improvement and even a full recovery is possible. Taylor emphasizes that the best way for horse owners to deal with this debilitating disease is to take preventative measures and be aware of early warning signs in order to increase the chance of a successful recovery.