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“There are no diseases in medicine that we deal with that have the complexity and the duration over time — especially in the equine end — as what we encounter with laminitis.”
So stated Robert Hunt, DVM, to hundreds of farriers and other equine professionals gathered at the sixth annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio, this past February. The goal is fairly straightforward: stabilize the foot and promote growth. Although facing this challenge with no guaranteed answers, the veterinarian from Hagyard Davidson McGee in Lexington, Ky., believes the key to management is a comprehensive understanding of what is going on and to what extent.
At the first opportunity, veterinarians working with farriers must gauge the severity of the suspected case to understand if management is an option. Because there are several theories on what causes laminitis, vets and farriers must be able to read the foot and understand the facets of laminitis. “You may lose that patient in 1 to 2 days or it may live for 10 to 15 more years,” says Hunt. “Whatever it is, generally it is a lifetime commitment with that patient.”
Hunt believes having the clinical skills to decide if a foot is stable or unstable is a daunting challenge and the largest determinant as to how he approaches it. Following this, he judges how much good foot is remaining. While the good foot is necessary in several mechanical treatments, Hunt warns to “use it, but don’t abuse…