Springtime Laminitis

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The dreaded words that no horse owner ever wants to hear:

"Your horse is suffering from Laminitis."

Springtime is the time of year that too many horses slip into that painful condition of inflammed laminae. That's exactly what "laminitis" is - "inflammed laminae"  And we all know that the laminae is the connective tissue that holds the hoof capsule onto the inner foot. So any inflammation of the laminae is equivalent to inflammation in your own toenail ... and its accompanying pain. 

But, why is springtime the time of the year when laminitis is most likely to rear its ugly head? 

Horses go laminitis for different reasons. Everything lands in the hooves. Stress, food, drugs ... and, of course, we see mechanical laminitis caused from the form of the hooves. 

Today I am addressing just one cause ... vaccinations. 

There is a policy that I put into place about 18 years ago when working as a professional hoofcare provider (I'm retired now, for the most part). That policy stated that if the horse received routine vaccinations and we had an appointment for hoofcare within 2 or 3 weeks after the vaccinations then the appointment had to be changed. Too many times I'd go in to trim hooves around the same time the horse received vaccinations and a day later the horses were laminitic. At first I thought I was doing something wrong with the trims and was totally perplexed as to why the horses were sore when mere routine trims were done. But I then began to see the pattern.

Routine trim.
Horse is laminitic next day.
Horse had been vaccinated just prior to hoofcare.

When I started noticing this pattern I brought my observations up to farriers and trimmers alike who then, also, began to see the pattern. They admitted yes, the horses they were working on would also go laminitic if their hoofcare was carried out within a week or two after vaccinations were administered. Now there are many farriers and hoofcare providers who have set up the same policy as I did well over a decade ago. 

Madalyn Ward, DVM states, "Vaccination is a normal part of most barn routines, and yet over-vaccination can be one of the main causes of laminitis. In addition, laminitis horses are extremely sensitive to drugs or vaccinations in their bodies, and even one round of “normal” vaccination can trigger a laminitic episode." -"Laminitis Horses: How to Manage Their Horse Health Care This Spring"

In a paper for "In Practice", a veterinary journal, Robert Eustace wrote, "Any stress such as overworking unfit horses, prolonged travelling in hot (or cold) conditions, anthelmintic treatments (particularly double doses of pyrantel) or vaccination may result in laminitis in some animals." -- Robert A Eustace FRCVS, "Equine Laminitis", Abstracted from the scrutineered veterinary journal In Practice July 1990 pp156-161

At the Second International Equine Conference on Laminitis in 2004, Dr. David Hood stated, "Experience and research dictates that these subclinical laminitis patients often decompensate [deteriorate] clinically and demonstrate symptoms of acute laminitis after normal trimming or routine vaccinations." -- Dr. David M. Hood, Texas A&M, Second International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, 2004

Please be aware that anthelmintics were also mentioned (chemical dewormers). I won't expound on that here but suffice to say that not only have parasites become particularly immune to dewormers but the use of them can also be a cause laminitis.

What is a normal time for deworming our horses? 


So, given the information here I'd strongly urge you all to give some hard-core consideration to scheduling your vaccines and your hoofcare accordingly. Because Laminitis easily can turn to full-blown Founder that is potentially fatal, why take the risk? 


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoof care for the last 20 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. You can email to Gwen -- gwen.santagate@gmail.com or telephone in the US (239)-573-9687. For further information please click here:  www.thepenzancehorse.com





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