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Farriers Are Key for Laminitis Early Detection

University of Pennsylvania veterinarian James Orsini offers laminitis early detection and management tips


Pictured Above: A horse is placed under general anesthesia for colic surgery. Colic can cause systemic inflammatory response system, which may lead to laminitis.
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Dr. James Orsini

Laminitis is one of the most dreaded equine diseases. Many horses affected by it eventually develop severe or chronic lameness.

Dr. James Orsini, former director of the Laminitis Institute at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center, is well-acquainted with the disease. He has seen many laminitic cases as a complication relative to a number of problems. Although laminitis can be successfully treated, it is often a lifelong process that requires considerable time, expense and energy.

Orsini shared his insight about the disease in an American Farriers Journal Online Hoof-Care Classroom webinar “Laminitis: Research and Recommendations on Management for Horse Owners and Horse Care Professionals,” sponsored by Ice Horse.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Radiographs are a helpful first step in determining a treatment plan and monitoring ongoing progress.
  • While the underlying cause of laminitis is being treated, interim mechanical support like a boot or glue-on shoe may be appropriate.
  • Only after the laminitic foot is considered stable is a more durable, permanent shoe applied.
  • Horses that are at-risk for developing laminitis offer a variety of signs including, bounding pules, elevated temperature, frequent shifting of their body weight and increased heart rate.

Understanding the causes of laminitis, Orsini says, helps farriers to prevent and detect early signs to keep the disease from escalating.

Identify the Underlying Problem

The causes of laminitis usually…

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Kristen Kubisiak

Kristen Kubisiak has been a writer and photographer with newspapers and magazines for 15 years. A native of Wisconsin, she is the Managing Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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