Pouring Cold Water On Laminitis Treatment Strategies

Over dinner a couple of years ago, veterinarian Frank Gravlee told me about one of the more successful laminitis treatments he used years ago in his private equine practice.

The equine nutritionist and founder of Life Data Labs in Cherokee, Ala., routinely stood laminitic horses in cold mountain streams to cool their feet. Like others who’ve used this trick over the years, he often saw improvement.

Cool Research

At the recent International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Fla., Chris Pollitt reported on the benefits of ice water treatment.

The Australian hoof researcher from the University of Queensland induced laminitis in a half dozen Standardbreds. Each horse then had one limb continuously cooled in a 50 percent ice and 50 percent water mixture for 2 days at a temperature of 40 degrees F.

Pollitt found these horses had no difficulty in tolerating the cold treatment. In each horse where laminitis was induced, there was no lameness that occurred with the ice treatment.

Laminitis histology scores in the treated limbs were significantly less. A scientific assessment for the expression for lamellar matrix metalloproteinase-2 was also significantly lower with the untreated feet.

Pollitt says the results indicate the ice treatment was effective in preventing the development of acute laminitis. He believes that vasoconstriction, which prevents the delivery of several laminitis trigger factors, and a reduction of lamella activity were the primary therapeutic mechanisms that resulted in a reduction of laminitis.

“The results should lead to…

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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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