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While laminitis is a treatable disease, Frank Nickels knows that with treatment comes complications. In fact, trying to diagnose a horse as laminitic can be a complication in itself.
“One of the most frustrating aspects of the disease is the inability to predict the clinical outcome of the disease,” says the equine veterinarian at Michigan State University.
Another concern with complicated laminitis cases is that they often take months or years to resolve, which can lead to an emotional roller coaster for your shoeing clients.
Resolution of difficult laminitis cases takes perseverance on the part of both the farrier and vet. They also require a substantial financial commitment and your shoeing clients need to be aware of these realities at the outset, says Nickels. However, he adds that the success in resolving these difficult cases makes it all worthwhile for everyone involved.
He says the degree of lameness and rotation are the two major indicators that are primarily used to assess the outcome of a laminitis case. Yet research has shown that the outcome may be predicted in about 50 percent of laminitis cases based simply on the degree of lameness. Researchers have also found an inverse relationship between the degree of rotation of the distal phalanx and the ability of a laminitic horse to return to athletic soundness.
As a result, Nickels says farriers and equine vets need to rely extensively on diagnostic radiographs in managing laminitis cases. “Radiographs at the onset are not only useful…