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Horse Health 101 : Horse Health Library : Hoof Care

Preventing Laminitis in Horses

When it comes to laminitis, prevention is the best treatment. Laminitis is a serious disease and the second leading cause of death in horses. While many factors can play a part in the onset of laminitis, there are some simple guidelines you can follow to help prevent it. Once the disease has set in, it becomes much more difficult to treat.

  1. Don't let your horse eat unfettered on lush green grasses. This is especially important after you've been through a dry spell and a good hard rain makes your pasture explode with growth. While you think you may be doing your horse a favor, you could be setting him up for laminitis. Be mindful of this during the transition from winter to spring. As the grasses begin to grow, shorten your normal turnout time and then gradually increase back to normal, giving your horse's body time to adjust. If you are unable to restrict turnout time, you may want to consider a grazing muzzle to reduce intake.
  2. Make sure that feed is securely stored away from your horse. A horse that gets into grain or feed will overeat. The breaking down of this grain overload will cause good bacteria in the gut to die, releasing toxins into the bloodstream.
  3. Don't feed your horse a diet high in carbohydrates. We recommend working with your veterinarian to develop an appropriate diet that takes into consideration the special needs your horse may have.
  4. Have the horse's feet trimmed by a farrier regularly (approximately every six weeks).
  5. If a horse is overheated, do not let him drink a large amount of water.
  6. Don't work a horse repeatedly on a hard surface. The continued concussive impact on the horse's hoof can decrease the blood to the lamina, causing the soft tissue to die resulting in laminitis and/or founder.
  7. Don't allow your horse to become overweight. Overweight horses are more likely to develop laminitis.
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