Friday, January 7, 2011

Laminitis in Horses

Holistic Treatments for Laminitis in Horses

Equine Laminitis, also called founder, is characterized by a decrease in the amount of blood circulating in the hoof. It is a serious and extremely painful condition with multiple causes.

The horse's hoof is somewhat similar to the structure of your fingernail, but the interior of the horse's hoof is lined with two layers of tissue called laminae. The hardest layer closest to the wall of the hoof is called the 'horny laminae', and the inner layer is called the 'sensitive laminae'. When the blood supply to the sensitive laminae is decreased, they become inflamed. The inflammation causes the union between the horny and sensitive laminae to break down. In severe cases, the bone inside the hoof, called the coffin bone or third phalanx, rotates downward. In advanced cases, the coffin bone may even perforate the sole.

Laminitis is especially common in ponies, although horses of all breeds can be and are affected.  The disease can be mild or life-threatening, a one-time deal or an ongoing problem.

A little equine anatomy and the workings of the hoof, will shed a little more light on the complex topic. Horses don't just stand on their feet, what they really do is hang suspended from the inside of their hooves!  The coffin bone, which is the bone at the end of the leg, doesn't have to bear much of the horses weight on it's bottom surface. This is because it is actually suspended inside the hoof by tough tissue called the laminae. The laminae hold the coffin bone inside of the hoof, so most of the horse's weight passes down the hoof wall to the ground, for the most part, detouring the sole.  The image shows the broad, rough top surface of the coffin bone.  The laminae attach to that rough surface and mesh with the corresponding inside surface of the hoof.

Causes of Laminitis in Horses

Laminitis may involve one or all four feet. Commonly known causes include eating excessive amounts of grain, eating too lush pasture grass, drinking cold water while overheated, and being overworked when not in fit condition. Hooves being trimmed to excessively can attribute to the condition. Corticosteroids and certain antibiotics can also induce laminitis.

Symptoms of Acute Laminitis

• Refusal to move, standing with the front legs stretched forward.
• Hooves are hot.
• Increased digital pulse.
• Occasionally, a separation of hoof and coronary band.

Natural Treatments for Laminitis
Call your vet immediately and remove any feed, and access to grass. Do not remove existing hay - keep it available to prevent added stress on the horse.

Make sure the horse is on a soft surface. Use peat for bedding to help prevent pressure ulcers on the hips, provide a firm footing for getting up, and good support for standing. Coarse sand may be used if peat is not available.

HydrotherapyWhile waiting for the vet to arrive, cold hose the affected legs at ten-minute intervals for 30 minutes each time.

Cold Treatment
If legs and feet are extremely hot, apply ice over the area until the vet arrives.

Magnet Therapy
Apply magnets to cannon bone area and hoof after the other treatments have all been done.

Acupressure for Acute Equine Laminitis

Apply treatment to points, TH3, TH1, TH5, SI1, LI1, GV14, LU11, and HT9 (To preform the treatment and locate the points, use Pet Remedy Charts, Acupressure to the Rescue for Horses.

Homeopathic Remedies for Acute Laminitis

Aconitum napellus 30c. This remedy should be given at the earliest onset of laminitis when it is first noticed. It can be alternated with Belladonna in acute cases of laminitis.

Belladonna 30c every 30 minutes. Works well when pulse is increased, temperature is elevated, and the horse is sweating. (May be alternated with Aconitum in cases of acute laminitis.)

Nux vomica 30c every few hours. Good in cases of decreased circulation.

For an easy to use, complete guide to remedy, dose and potency in treating horses with homeopathy use Pet Remedy Charts, Homeopathy to the Rescue for Horses.

Chronic Laminitis

Once laminitis has occured and the emergency care completed, follow-up care begins. Each case must be assessed on an individual basis so a care plan can be initiated. X-rays should be taken to determine the position of the coffin bone and your vet and farrier will decide how to reshape the hoof. Generally the toe of the hoof will be rasped back and the heel lowered to achieve realignment. Heel-lowering must be carried out gradually, possibly over several shoeings, to guard against a sudden increase in tension on the deep digital flexor tendon which could cause further rotation of the coffin bone. Use of pads, bar shoes, or wide-web shoes must be decided on a case-by-case basis, according to X-rays, to decide which will make the horse more comfortable.

Holistic treatments for laminitis in horses are very effective in treating chronic conditions, though since every case is different there is no specific treatment that will work for all horses.

What are the Chronic Symptoms of Laminitis

Look for these signs to occur after an acute case, and on and off throughout the horse's life after a case of laminitis:
• Lameness that is worse on hard ground.
• Horse landing on the heel of an affected hoof.
• Hoof wall grows differently, with a longer toe, higher heel, and concave front of the hoof wall.
• Rings on the hoof wall appear and the space between the rings is wider near the heel (unlike rings on the hoof wall due to other stress.
• The sole of the hoof may be dropped and very flaky in consistency.


Test - Have your vet Xray the foot.
Shoeing - Consult your farrier as to the best way to reshape and shoe the hoof. Foundered horses often have rapid hoof growth so have your farrier visit as often as every four weeks.

Natural Supplements for Laminitis

• Vitamin C. Give 8 grams per 1,000-pound horse, daily.
• Coenzyme Q-10. This antioxidant is very effective but dosage varies greatly according to symptoms. Consult a holistic vet for dosage best suited to your horse's needs.

Herbs for Equine Laminitis

 All herbs listed below can be helpful and a mixture of them all of them will give increased results:
• Clivers. Use to promote lymphatic drainage. Effectively prevents a recurrence. Give 1/2 to 3/4 ounce (15 to 20 grams) twice daily. You can make a compress of clivers tea to help sooth swollen legs.
• Cat's claw. Helps to keep inflammation reduced and promotes circulation. Use 1/4 oz (5 to 10 grams). Caution: Do not give to nursing mares.
• Comfrey. Helps with circulation, and promotes bone and soft tissue healing. Give 1 oz (30 grams) of the dried herb twice daily.
• Nettle. Stimulates circulation. It also contains vitamin C that has antioxidant properties. Feed 1/2 to 1 oz (15 to 30 grams) a day.
• Devil's claw. Has anti-inflammatory properties. Feed 1/2 to 1 oz (15 to 30 grams) daily.

Note: The best place we have found to buy guaranteed, high quality, certified organic medicinal herbs in bulk quantity, is Pacific Botanicals. For precise instructions on dosing schedules and amounts to give use Herbs to the Rescue for Horses, from Pet Remedy Charts.

Homeopathy for Chronic Laminitis

Chronic laminitis requires a professional consultation and homeopathic workup with a holistic vet. To aid in pain management you could try:
Arnica 30c 2 or 3 times a day for pain.
• Bellis 30c is a deep tissue remedy that could be used for pain if Arnica is not doing the job.
• Hypericum 30c is another good homeopathic pain medicine that is a specific for nerve pain in the feet.
• Symphytum 30c is used to strengthen and fuse bone, also to ease pain.

For specific dosing and potency instructions we recommend Pet Remedy Charts, Homeopathy to the Rescue for Horses, a professional reference guide to treating horses using Homeopathic medicines at home.

Magnetic Therapy

Use the small magnets that you glue onto the front of the hooves to help increase circulation. A magnet may also be applied over the cannon bone area to further stimulate circulation.

Acupressure for Chronic Laminitis

Front legs:
• LI1, LU11, PC9, TH1, SI1, HT9: these points around the coronary band promote circulation.
• TH3 aids with circulation, and helps detoxify the liver.
• Th5 Increases circulation.
• GV14, stimulate this point last to help move the circulation, and Qi.

Hind legs:
• ST45, SP1, KI1, BL67, KI1: these points around the coronary band promote circulation.
• GB44: increases circulation, and decreases fluid retention in the legs.
•Bai Hui: use this point last to help move the circulation and Qi throughout the hind legs.

For a guide to preforming acupressure on your horse and point locations we recommend using, Acupressure to the Rescue for Horses a wonderful quick reference guide to equine home health care.

Recommended Reading: For professionals or serious students - This is the gold standard in books for Veterinary Homeopathy. 'Fast Forward to the Cure Pro-Version, 2.0', is a digital publication in PDF format that you can download and start using now. Learn advanced veterinary homeopathy, LM dosing techniques and the methods of 'Dynamic Dosing' for animals which can speed a pets healing time by 1/4 to 1/2 or more! Veterinary Medica, Therapeutic Repertories, printable Case Taking Forms, Observation Sheets and full color Anatomy Charts for dogs, cats horses and birds are included in 14 Chapters and 872 pages. To see complete details and excerpts from the book CLICK HERE.

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