Lanark Branch: 01555 660000

Lanark branch: 01555 660000


Laminitis is a disease that can occur in all breeds of horses and ponies.  It is one of the most painful conditions in the horse and can be caused by a number of factors.

  1. Excess carbohydrate intake
  2. Obesity / Equine metabolic syndrome / Type II Diabetes Mellitus.
  3. Overloading, either from excess work on hard ground or overcompensating for an injured limb
  4. Endotoxemia, e.g. mares retaining cleansing / colic
  5. Various other hormonal and drug related interactions can affect the progress of the disease. E.g. peripheral parsintermeria dysfunction.

Acute Laminitis
The most commonly noticed stage in laminitis is the  acute phase.  In the acute phase the animal has a sudden onset of severe pain and is very reluctant to move.  It may seem very distressed and sweat.  Thereis a typical laminitic stance whereby the horse rocks back onto its heels, often arching its back.
Weight may be shifted from one foot to the other, heat will be felt in the feet especially at the coronary   band and a large pulse may also usually be evident  above the heels.

Typical Laminitic Stance
In the horse the lamellae line the inside of the hoof and the outside of the pedal bone.  These interdigitate to suspend the horse from its hoofs.  In laminitis these lamellae are inflamed and their interactions start to breakdown, this can lead to rotation of the pedal bone and if the condition progresses then ‘sinking’ (founder) can occur. 

What To Do

  • Call your Vet.  He/she will examine your animal and provide drugs such as ACP (acepromazine), Bute (phenylbutazone). Frog supports will probably be fitted to your horse’s feet, these will most likely be composed of a high density foam pad.
  • Remove the animal from the source of the problem, if it is at grass put him in a deeply bedded stable.
  • If his stable is a long way from the field, trailer him home rather than making him walk
  • The best bedding is deep shavings, at least 18 inches deep, covering the whole floor area
  • Keep the horse quiet and encourage him to lie down, do not force exercise.
  • Cold therapy : This is useful in acute cases. Ice baths have shown to be highly effective in ameliorating laminar changes associated with inflammation.


The material contained in this website is presented for information purposes only . The material is in no way intended to replace professional veterinary care or attention from a professional veterinary surgeon. 

The advice given in any of our web pages cannot be used as the basis for a diagnosis or choice of treatment.

Clyde Vet Group advises that you should always consult a veterinary surgeon about any queries with animals under your care.