Research Journal: December 2018

The information, ideas and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Risk Factors For Laminitis

A landmark national study organized by the American Association of Equine Practitioners was conducted to identify factors associated with the development of pasture- and endocrine- (hormone) associated laminitis in North America. New cases of laminitis (199 horses) from all across the country were matched to 351 controls that were either healthy or lame but without laminitis. Laminitic horses in the study had an Obel grade of at least 2 (in addition to shifting weight from one foot to another, horses moved with a noticeably shortened and stabbing stride at the walk or trot).

Most (61%) of the horses in the study had an Obel grade of 3 with 31% having Grade 3 laminitis and 8% having Grade 4. Not surprisingly, most cases occurred in the spring (34%) and summer (33%) with fewer cases in the fall (19%) and winter (14%).

Horses that were obese (body condition score of 7/9 or more), had generalized or regional adiposity (fat deposits) or a preexisting hormone condition (e.g. pituitary dysfunction, metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance) were more likely to develop laminitis. Receiving therapeutic treatment with corticosteroids within the previous 30 days also seemed to be associated with increased odds of laminitis. However, because use of this type of medication was very uncommon, this finding did not contribute significantly to the final analysis.

The authors concluded that in addition to earlier recognition and treatment of the endocrine disorders named above, simply addressing obesity might significantly contribute to reducing the occurrence of…

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Albert Kane

Albert J. Kane, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D.

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