Treating Pedal Osteitis and Founder

This veterinarian/farrier says it’s important to act early to prevent this painful condition

BONE CHANGES. Changes in the bone shape of the third phalanx or coffin bone can be seen in lateral view and dorsal-palmar view X-rays.

Over the last 14 years, I’ve been working as a veterinarian and horseshoer on many kinds of lameness cases including founder and laminitis.

These diseases offer many challenges for hoof-care practitioners around the world. The greatest long-term need I have found is controlling the pedal osteitis that horses develop during the treatment and carry with them for the rest of their life.


Pedal osteitis is an inflammatory reaction that occurs around the marginal border of the third phalanx. From the onset of laminitis and continuing throughout the disease process, many changes occur in this area.

These are due to the chronic inflammation of the tissues that surround the bone. These swelling tissues cause calcium to move to and from the marginal border of the bone, changing its shape.

Radiographically, these changes in bone shape can be seen on the lateral view and the dorsal-palmar view.

But let’s think a little about what happens to this laminitic horse in the first stages of the disease. Remember that laminitis is a multi-factored problem.

Consider a case like this. The horse gets laminitis and is in pain. The muscles in the body contract, particularly the deep flexor tendon, which pulls against the third phalanx. Usually, the bone doesn’t move due to its strong attachment at the laminar complex.

But if the laminar complex is damaged, the tendon contraction…

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