Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
This edition is sponsored by the W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine) of East Longmeadow, Mass.
Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: Besides care by farriers and veterinarians and regulating the diet, are there other therapies that can help laminitic horses?
By Kathleen Crandell, PhD
Laminitis can strike at any time, contributing to pain, loss of function, poor quality of life and economic losses associated with treatment. Medical therapies can help some affected horses, yet many cases remain unresponsive to treatment.
Given the impact of laminitis on the equine industry, owners and veterinarians are often willing to try novel treatments, including administration of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
These regenerative therapies have traditionally been used for treating tendon injuries, wounds and even joint disease. More recently, however, veterinarians have been exploring the use of these treatments in laminitic horses with reported success.
While horse owners are fortunate to have these treatment options available, there is little science supporting the use of stem cells or PRP for laminitis in horses.
To determine if these therapies benefit affected animals, a group of Italian scientists used a combination of adipose-derived stem cells and PRP on nine horses suffering from chronic laminitis. Each of these horses had naturally occurring laminitis and was previously treated unsuccessfully with conventional laminitic therapies.
The horses were administered with the stem-cell/PRP slurry intravenously in a digital vein. Injection was repeated once monthly for 3 consecutive months.
The researchers found neither short- nor long-term adverse reactions following injection. Importantly, all of the horses showed improvement in blood flow, structure and hoof function. All nine horses reportedly returned to a comfortable quality of life.
Other ways to maintain healthy hooves to avoid life-threatening bouts of laminitis include routine farrier care, avoidance of sudden access to lush pastures or high-grain feeds and maintenance of optimal body condition scores to minimize the development of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
In addition, a quality nutritional supplement designed to support hoof health and help with the healing process can be fed to horses with laminitis. Products that include biotin, methionine, iodine, chelated zinc, lecithin and essential fatty acids to promote healthy hoof growth and resilient hoof horn are ideal.
Kathleen Crandell, PhD, is an equine nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research in Versailles, Ky.
Click here to read Part 2 of the December 15, 2017 installment: How important are minerals for improving hoof quality and growth?