Laminitis in horses

Laminitis in horses is a very painful disease that means that once it has occurred, the horse and the owner must pay very close attention to feeding and care of the horse. Otherwise, the disease can be fatal, making it a nightmare for any horse lover. However, it can also be kept well in check with the right feed and sensible therapy. You just have to know how the laminitis feeding as well as the laminitis therapy should be designed.

How can you tell if your horse is suffering from laminitis?

First laminitis symptoms are difficult to recognise for horse owners but also for veterinarians. If the hoof corium is slightly inflamed, the horse alternately lifts its hooves and then puts them back on the ground. In addition, the horse is slightly lame at a walk as well as at a trot and the hooves are warmer than in normal condition.

If the vet palpates the horse with forceps, it may show pain. However, for a definite diagnosis it is necessary to examine the horse clinically and to take an X-ray. In the acute stage of laminitis, the horse will relieve the affected areas when standing. If the front hooves are affected, they are stretched far forward; if the problem occurs on the hind hooves, the horse places them far under the body. It is important to act quickly to avoid the extremely painful symptoms of advanced laminitis. Then the horse usually just lies down and moans in pain. The sole of the hoof may break through and the horse may shoe out.

The causes of laminitis are wide-ranging and it is therefore very difficult to clearly determine them. They range from feed to the horse's hormonal balance to concomitant symptoms of other diseases. It is important that the treatment for laminitis is correct. If laminitis is suspected, call a vet immediately, because now every minute counts.

While you are waiting for the vet, cool your horse's hooves. You can do this with crushed ice, for example, which you can pack in plastic bags. There may be a petrol station near you that sells crushed ice and can also provide you with plastic bags.


The vet will give your horse aspirin or a similar medication in the acute phase to support the blood circulation. He will also give pain-relieving medication and possibly intravenous fluids to bring the acid-base balance into equilibrium. A special laminitis bandage also cushions and protects the hoof from infection.

But the horse owner can also do a lot in case of laminitis. For one thing, cool the hoof, which is pain-relieving and is supposed to reduce the inflammation. The horse should stand on soft ground, stone-free sand is very suitable. A special shoe can help your horse to walk without pain.

Since feed is often the trigger of the disease, you should make sure that the horse only eats good hay and straw. Under no circumstances should laminitis feed consist of silage and concentrate should also be avoided. The further treatment of laminitis also includes supplementary feed for the horse. Special supplementary feed for the horse with laminitis influences the cell metabolism and can thus make the horse's body more resistant to inflammation.

Herbs that stimulate blood circulation are also effective. Here you can give your horse a tea of yarrow, rosehip or calendula or give hops, nettle, birch or rosehip fresh. Tea made from nettle, ginger or willowherb will relieve the pain.

How well your horse weathers laminitis depends on many factors. If it is only in the early stages, you can assume that the chances of recovery are good and your horse can be ridden again after a period of rest. However, a horse that has had laminitis once is always prone to it. So it is important to avoid everything that could be a trigger from now on.