September 12, 2016 2 min read

Signs and Symptoms of Laminitis

Not all the signs of Laminitis are obvious! Your horse doesn’t have to be standing ‘Camped under’ in the classic Founder Stance or have ‘Aladdin’ slipper feet! Some of the signs can be subtle and easily confused with other common problems.

  • The horse has adopted the ‘founder stance’
  • The horse has an elevated heart rate (above 45 beats per minute) and/or respiration rate (above 16 breaths per minute)
  • The horse may lie down a lot and be depressed
  • Not stepping out properly – goes with a shuffling gait, worse on corners or when asked to go downhill
  • Bounding digital pulse
  • Shifting weight from hoof to hoof
  • Difficulty holding up a hoof to be trimmed
  • Frequent abscessing
  • Seedy toe problems and hoof cracks
  • White line separation with flat soles
  • Tender on hard ground
  • Growth rings and dishing in the hoof wall or ‘slipper feet’

 

Missy's Bucket Signs & Symptoms of Laminitis

Image: Dorsal wall flare (front of hoof) 

Missy's Bucket Signs Of Laminitis

Image: White Line Separation



Signs That Your Horse Could Have Cushing’s Disease:

 

 

 

  • Laminitis occurring in the Autumn (not spring)
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Excessive drinking and urination
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) or failure to sweat (anhidrosis)
  • Development of allergies and hypersensitivities (e.g., vaccinations, flies)
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Poor resistance to internal parasites
  • Skin darkening, often with thickening and scaling
  • Slow spring shedding of coat with a long, coarse & sometimes curly coat, in advanced cases there is a failure to shed completely
  • Infertility

Image: Classic slipper feet and thick curly coat of Cushings Disease
Photo by Sandi Chiswell 

Signs That Your Horse Could Have Insulin Resistance

  • The horse is overweight with a cresty, hard neck and other abnormal fat deposits. These may persist even after the horse loses weight.
  • The horse is an easy keeper and always seems to stay fat compared to other horses
  • Not all IR horses are overweight. In advanced cases the horse can be skinny however it will often still be cresty and have abnormal fat deposits.
  • History of laminitis or founder commonly induced by grass
  • Puffiness in the hollows above the eyes
  • Sheath swelling in geldings
  • Advanced symptoms may include increased thirst and urination
  • Loss of body condition and muscle wasting
  • Low energy levels

Image: Cresty necks don’t have to be huge, hard and obvious to indicate IR

In the next article, we will look at what happens to the hooves, both externally and internally and how this affects the horse.

For more info on Laminitis including treatment, rehab and prevention, have a look at the book ‘What is Laminitis? – A Practical, Step by Step Guide to Recovery’ written by Rebecca Scott and Zoe Messina. This is available in the shop as a PDF

‘If your horse has laminitis, this is the FIRST book you should read! A review by Linda Whitfield Cowles – Equine rehab specialist.



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