Why you Need to Cool Down the Feet of Laminitic Horses

During the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in San Antonio, Texas, Australian hoof researchers shared their latest theories on using cold water to combat laminitis.

They determined that continuous immersion of all four limbs in 34 degree F to at least the mid-cannon range was successful in cooling arterial blood and achieving appropriate lamellar temperatures in horses suffering from severe laminitis.

University of Queensland researchers Andrew van Eps and Chris Pollitt randomly assigned 18 Standardbreds with normal feet and no lameness to three groups. Six horses served as cold treatment controls while the remaining 12 horses received a laminitis-induction dose of oligofructose. Among these dozen horses, six were treated in a cold water bath while the other six were not. All horses were euthanized 7 days after the laminitic induction or initial cold water treatment.

Standing For 72 Hours

For the cold water treatment (known as cryotherapy), the horses were placed in a wooden bath housed within stocks. An attached refrigeration pump continuously circulated 34 degree F water. The water level was maintained just below the carpus and internal hoof temperatures were recorded continuously for 72 hours with these horses.

After 3 days, the horses were evaluated for lameness twice daily and scored for lameness. Following euthanasia, samples of the dorsal lamellae were sectioned, stained and examined with light microscopy.

Van Eps says all horses in the control group tolerated the cold water treatment well. Internal hoof temperatures ranged from 35 to 38 degrees F…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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