Horses are some of the most beautiful animals in the world. They are strong, elegant, and lovely. Their very presence can be therapeutic for people that are around them. Horses are actually useful in people that are undergoing therapy. Horse owners are proud to have these gorgeous animals as part of their lives. They require a lot of care and time and it is very much a labor of love. Unfortunately, horses can develop injuries or medical conditions just like people can. It is heartbreaking to find out that your precious horse may have a health condition. A health condition that can affect horses is called laminitis and it is much more common than many horse owners and trainers realize on first hearing this diagnosis.
What Exactly Is Laminitis?
How Do I Get Laminitis Diagnosed? Laminitis in horses is when there is short-term, occasional, or long-term blood flow disruptions to the laminae. The laminae is what constructs the coffin bone within the foot that is connected to the hoof wall. When there is limited blood flow, it can restrict the laminae from doing its job in keeping the coffin bone connected to the wall of the hoof. Blood flow disruption can begin to cause inflammation and pain and even affect the function of the foot and make it difficult to walk for the horse. The change in their hooves can be noticed by a veterinarian or an attentive trainer or owner.
The diagnosis of laminitis in horses can come with a veterinarian's careful examination. They will ask you questions pertaining to the horse's health. It is imperative to let the vet know of any signs or symptoms you have noticed that point to a health problem. Laminitis in horses will be diagnosed with the help of radiography and potentially through digital pulses. Also, a veterinarian will typically look for signs and symptoms appear to thorough physical examination.
A radiographic image will look for thickening in the wall of the hoof and the coffin bone. They will look for evidence of severity and what the primary cause could be. There may be noted rotation in the bone and a noticeable deformity in the hoof. Radiologic images will give a detailed view of what is going on inside the hoof area of the horse and help the veterinarian make a diagnosis. It is also possible they will use a dying contrast to point out any other issues that could be wrong during the radiographic process. It will be a combination of all of these methods that a vet will use to determine an accurate diagnosis of laminitis.
What Are the Symptoms of Laminitis in Horses?
Symptoms and signs of laminitis in horses will differ based on how severe or minor the issue is. An acute case of laminitis may only last a few days or hours whereas a case of chronic laminitis would last longer than seven days. A horse with laminitis might appear to be nodding their head, walking as though it is painful or awkward, and they may be standing at an unusual angle. They may have a hard time getting up. A horse hoof may feel hot when touching it. Unfortunately, laminitis is not always isolated to one hoof. It could be throughout two to all four hooves.
Sadly, it can cause structural damage within the hoof. The lamella loss can cause the coffin bone to rotate or drop downward. There will be significant pain associated with the condition that can be worse if it is a chronic case. The pain comes from the nerve endings that are being affected by the lack of blood flow.
Some horses that have severe laminitis may have a worsening of the condition if they have developed complications. Some complications that can cause problems are a worsening of the blood flow issues, a bacterial infection, or a complete prolapse of the coffin bone into the hoof.
How To Treat Laminitis Naturally
Treating laminitis with natural remedies is possible. Natural treatment options for horse laminitis can help with their inflammation, nutrition, and overall horse health. It is possible for even chronic cases to see some improvement with proper veterinary care, natural treatments, and careful care by owners and trainers.
Overweight Horses with Laminitis
Horses that are overweight and have laminitis need to be managed carefully. It is imperative that their weight be brought down to a healthier level. Walking or moving around with laminitis is difficult for a normal weight horse. An overweight horse will have a much harder time getting around if they have lameness in their hooves. In fact, it can render them immobile much faster than a horse that is of normal weight.
Some great tips for horse owners that have an overweight horse or an overweight horse with laminitis will be listed in this article. One of the best things that can be done is to start giving them healthier feed. There are companies that sell nutritional feed specifically for equines. Equine feed that is of poor quality can contribute greatly to a horse's weight. An equine with laminitis that is fed poor quality feed may decline quickly and have a much harder time recovering and being mobile. Researching equine food providers and the ingredients in the foods will help in making the best decision for your horse. Looking for an organic and nutritious feed for your horse is a good tip in that organic food is not processed and therefore contains no chemical additives that can affect their gut health and their immunity.
Laminitis and Pain Management
Laminitis in horses is especially painful. It is when there is limited blood flow to the coffin bone and hoof wall and it begins to make the area inflamed. The pain is something that they cannot vocalize. Owners and trainers usually notice that there is a problem when their gait is changed or they are moving differently than usual. Sometimes, the equine will not want to get up from lying down. The pain from this condition can be very difficult for the horse to handle.
Sometimes, horses are prescribed NSAIDs for pain management. In some cases, NSAIDs may be a good option. It is really up to an individual circumstance. Some equines have a hard time processing NSAIDs on a regular basis. Many veterinarians tell horse owners and trainers to monitor the equine for any side effects or issues. Also, many are told to only give them NSAIDs for a short-term need. This is because NSAIDs have side effects. Side effects can be stomach upset, nausea, and ulcers. It is also possible for an allergic reaction to occur. Keeping a close eye on the equine after NSAID consumption is vital to ensure that they do not have any of the worrisome side effects.
Taking NSAIDs regularly can change the gut flora and make it hard for the equine to fight diseases. This is because gut flora and bacteria are believed to have a direct impact on immunity and overall health.
Equines can take digestive enzymes and gut flora supplements to help them with their gut health. Gut health is more important than people realize and this is true for equines as well. These are large animals and their guts are linked to their health and well-being. Supplements like digestive enzymes and probiotics can really help a horse to have improved gut health and immunity. This is even more vital for an equine that has laminitis. Their bodies and immune systems are already compromised from having laminitis. So, it is highly beneficial to ensure that they get supplementation for gut flora integrity and immunity.
Diabetic Horses With Laminitis
Diabetic horses with laminitis are especially vulnerable. Diabetes makes it harder for the body to heal and do its job. This is because blood sugars are high and it makes the kidneys and liver have to work much harder than normal to process blood flow, minerals, and vitamins. Diabetic horses with laminitis are further compromised because of their blood flow issues in the hoof. It is necessary to manage the diabetes properly. Veterinarians will prescribe medications and give instructions on how to ensure their blood sugars are as normal as possible.
It is important to manage their blood sugars closely and ensure that they are given a veterinarian recommended diabetic equine diet. A diabetic equine diet will consist of low-sugar and minimally processed feed. There are feed companies that manufacture this specialty type of feed for owners to give their equines. Researching fully the ingredients will be smart to ensure that your horse will be getting the proper diet for their needs.
Supplementation of magnesium can be beneficial to horses with laminitis and diabetes. Magnesium is necessary for the body to thrive and not having enough can cause unwanted negative health consequences. Magnesium supplementation can help with diabetes and bone health. This is great for diabetic equines and very helpful to diabetic equines with laminitis. It helps both diabetes and bone health and bone health is significantly important for laminitis. Adding magnesium to their diets can be done through specific supplements or through food that contains magnesium in a higher volume than some of the lower quality feeds. There are equine magnesium supplements that are sold on the market. Also, there are higher quality feeds that contain the recommended daily value of magnesium for horses.
Equine Vitamins For Laminitis Care
Having the right vitamins and nutrients is vital for equine laminitis, along with many other common health Issues for horses. Equine laminitis is a blood flow issue within the hoof. It is inflammatory, painful, and can cause mobility issues with the horse. Giving equines the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals that they need for their body is imperative in a healthy horse. However, the right vitamins and minerals is even more important for horses that have medical issues or conditions like laminitis.
They need many of the same vitamins that humans do. They need omega fatty acids as well. Omega fatty acids are needed in that the body must have them to perform and function. Horses can get omega fatty acids through foods that contain them. Essential fatty acids can be found in horse feeds. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are imperative for horses. They can get some in their natural feeding process and also supplementation. There are equine supplements that contain omega fatty acids and they are often in feed or treat form. This is helpful for horse owners that want to ensure that their horse is getting enough omega fats in their diet. Omega 3 and Omega 6 can help with inflammation in the body and inflammation is certainly a concern with equine laminitis. The lack of blood flow into the bones and vessels of the coffin bone and surrounding hoof wall can definitely result in noticeable inflammation when seen on radiology screenings. This is why Omega fatty acid supplementation into an equine diet is very beneficial. Their ability to heal and reduce inflammation can be increased with this in their diets in enough quantity.
The Environment of Horses For Natural Healing
Horses that are ill or that have an illness like laminitis should be kept in a peaceful environment. As stress-free as possible is the best thing for them. A lot of horses are used for shows, horseback riding, competitions, and other strenuous activities. A completely healthy horse can often handle these situations with no problem. However, a horse with laminitis should not be engaging in high-stress and high-energy activities. Their bodies will need a lot of rest to recover. Acute cases of laminitis that will resolve themselves shortly will need the rest for a short period of time. However, longer and more chronic cases will require long-term rest in a peaceful environment in order to heal.
Their hooves are in pain and can have further damage if they are required to engage in a lot of activity. A veterinarian can give advice on where they should rest and what type of activities they can engage in based on their diagnosis and expert opinion. It is crucial to listen to the trusted vet's advice on this as that will ensure a better prognosis for the future and perhaps even a full recovery. That is always the goal to strive for and it is important to remain as positive as possible as equines are quite sensitive to the emotions of their handlers and owners.
Natural Treatment of Laminitis in Horses
The natural treatment of laminitis in horses is possible. As mentioned earlier in the article, there are many natural options to help a horse with laminitis. Vitamins, omega fatty acids, relaxation in a stress-free environment, and proper nutrition through feed and other supplementation. However, one of the very best natural alternatives for managing laminitis is through CBD. CBD is cannabidiol and it is part of the cannabis Sativa plant. The CBD is extracted through a careful process in which the cannabidiol is the main ingredient left. This means that there is no THC in the oil that is extracted. THC is the compound in marijuana that makes a person feel a high. A person taking CBD will not feel any of these psychoactive properties and neither will an equine. Your sweet horse will not be “high” at all
CBD Oil For Horses is made specifically for equines and large animals. The horse can begin taking it right away and it is often given in sublingual form. A horse owner may also choose to add it to their feed. The CBD oil will allow the benefits to be given to the horse for natural healing in a convenient and organic way. CBD has been proven in studies to help with inflammation and pain as well as a host of other ailments. Horses with laminitis often feel pain and have inflammation in their joints. The healing properties of CBD oil works with their endocannabinoid systems within the body. It can truly help an equine that is suffering and give them a better overall quality of life. Horse owners don't have to worry about any of those difficult side effects that many medications come with when it comes to CBD oil. There are none of these side effects with CBD. It is a completely natural and organic supplement that works along with the body's natural processes. No added chemicals will be getting into your horse's body, and there are many reasons to give equine CBD oil to your horses!
Final Thoughts on Natural Healing For Horses with Laminitis
Natural healing for horses with laminitis is possible. This article goes over some of the most beneficial and popular ways to help a horse heal and feel better with laminitis. It can seem as though there is nothing that a horse owner can do when their sweet horse has come down with this difficult condition. However, there are things that you can do to help your precious equine get better. Higher quality and nutrient-rich feed, plenty of rest, vitamins, and CBD oil supplementation can really give them a chance at healing and feeling better in a quick period of time. Giving this natural healing supplementation along with the advice and guidance of a trusted vet is the best way to ensure that your horse is on their way to getting better fast and recovering from this condition.
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
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