A British study recently identified significant difficulty that owners have in properly recognizing and treating laminitis, hindering laminitis prevention overall.

Kentucky Equine Research (KER) notes that prompt treatment is crucial for a better chance of a positive outcome for equids suffering from laminitis. However, new research shows how many cases of laminitis go undetected.

“Failure of laminitis recognition by owners highlights further need for evidence-based education to ensure early detection,” according to researchers Pollard, Wylie, Verheyen et al in a study published in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

The researchers recorded that a U.K. veterinary surgeon diagnosed 93 horses with laminitis. The owners of 51 of the horses suspected that their horses had laminitis, while 42 believed that their animals’ ill health was due to other causes.

The team also noted that owners who recognize symptoms of laminitis sometimes attempted to treat their equids without veterinary attention. As a result, these owners failed to recognize underlying causes and potentially missed the severity of the condition.

While recognizing and treating laminitis is important, prevention efforts remain important.

“Proper nutrition aimed at preventing problems in the feet and maintaining an appropriate body condition score are two important ways owners can help minimize the development of laminitis,” says Dr. Kathleen Crandell, a nutritionist for KER.