Laminitis Knowledge Grows, But Still A Long Way To Go

While much has been learned about laminitis over the past 25 years, Andy Parks maintains the picture is still incomplete. He told attendees at last winter’s American Association of Equine Practitioners meeting that treatment techniques lag well behind the understanding of the pathophysiology of this disease.

Even so, the equine veterinarian at the University of Georgia says the collective clinical experience for treating laminitis has certainly increased. This is partly due to the fact that many products, particularly shoeing or supportive devices, were not available 25 years ago.

No Easy Answers

Parks says many commonly asked questions concerning laminitis do not have definitive answers. “It is still necessary for the clinician to interpret each horse separately and incorporate personal experience into the treatment,” he says.

He considers laminitis to be acute when it has been present for less than 3 days and the distal phalanx is not displaced. Distal phalanx displacement occurs when the epidermal lamellae separates from the dermal lamellae.

When analyzing laminitis causes, Parks says it’s necessary to differentiate between risk factors associated with the disease and the pathophysiology aspects of the disease. Risk factors such as colic, colitis, overfeeding on grain or lush grass and metritis frequently associated with endotoxemia can lead to laminitis.

Other factors include prolonged work on hard surfaces without adequate foot protection, prolonged weight-bearing on a single limb due to a problem in the contralateral limb, equine Cushings syndrome and the injection of steroids.

While the pathophysiology of laminitis has been the subject

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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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