Vet Services Hawkes Bay Ltd

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What is Laminitis?

Laminitis is a very serious disease of the equine hoof that can lead to a disasterous loss of function. It occurs when there is failure of the attachment of the pedal bone to the inner hoof wall. The inner hoof wall is attached by sensitive laminae or folds to the pedal bone in the hoof. Laminitis occurs following endotoxaemia, or toxins in the blood stream which results in the blood supply to the laminae being decreased, despite an increased blood flow to the hoof. This results in the separation of the hoof laminae from the pedal bone within the foot. The pedal bone may then rotate due to the pull of the deep digital flexor tendon.

The most common causes are grain engorgement, grazing in lush pastures, post foaling uterine infections, certain types of bacterial pneumonia and other infections. In fat ponies it is common to find laminitis during the spring months, where the carbohydrate content of the pasture increases in grasses and clovers.

Signs of Laminitis

  • Although all four feet may be involved in laminitis it is more commonly the forelimbs that are affected than the hindlimbs.
  • Affected horses show reluctance to move and the horse places more of its weight on its hindlimbs with the forelimbs placed well out in front of the body.
  • Horse or pony lying down for long periods, with reluctance to stand up.
  • There is increased heat around the coronet and a bounding digital pulse.

What to Do?

It is important to give us a call so we can examine the affected horse and assess the severity of the laminitis. Different treatment regimes will be required depending on the cause of the laminitis.

If the horse or pony is shod the shoes should be removed.

In severe cases, horses should be confined to a stall with a deep bed of sand (best) or fine wood shavings or sawdust. Being confined on sand will help support the frog, prevent excessive walking and help prevent further pedal bone rotation.

Padded bandaging to the sole can also assist to support the frog.

Where the horse has become overweight and has developed laminitis on fresh spring grass it is imperative to remove it from grass and feed a low energy, high fibre diet. Meadow hay is the best option. The feed quantity should be reduced and is best discussed with us on a case by case basis.

Radiographs should be considered to evaluate the degree of rotation of the pedal bone and the severity of the case. This information can then be used to assess the degree of corrective hoof trimming that is required to rebalance the hoof in collaboration with a farrier.

Anti-inflammatory drugs can be given to assist with pain relief.

Laminitis Prevention

As mentioned above laminitis develops as a sequelae to other disease processes in the body other than the foot. Therefore, it is paramount that the primary disease is treated urgently and effectively. Nevertheless severe laminitis can still be the outcome despite everyone’s best efforts.

Avoiding feeding ponies and horses too much quality spring grass is of huge importance. This can be achieved by yarding or boxing a horse and feeding meadow hay made in the summer. Soaking hay in water for an hour will also significantly reduce the water soluble carbohydrates in the hay. Where this is difficult, grass muzzles have been used successfully to limit grass intake.

Pony breeds in particular are prone to obesity and obese ponies are at high risk of developing laminitis. The weight and body condition of ponies should be monitored regularly and their diets adjusted accordingly.

Founderguard is an antibiotic formulation that can be fed to horses and ponies at pasture. It may control hindgut carbohydrate fermentation to levels that prevent serious laminitis.


Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: There have been some statements regarding vaccination in dogs (and Dobermans in particular) floating around the internet for some time now which in my opinion are a cause for concern. Vaccination of dogs is done for one reason only - to protect the health of the animal by providing it with immunity against certain very serious diseases.

Sheep Measles

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Sheep measles (Taenia Ovis) unlike true hydatids (Echinococcus granulosus) has no human health risks, but its importance lies in the fact that it leads to cysts through the carcass of the animal which are unsightly and lets face it, who wants to eat meat with visible oozing cysts.

Poisons in Dogs

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Dogs and cats can be poisoned by products that are readily available around the house as well as those that are being used to reduce the possum, rat/mice and slug population. Remember dogs are natural scavengers and even during a hard days work can usually find time to snack on a tasty morsel that they come across.

Gastric Torsion in Dogs

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: We have in the past few weeks seen a number of dogs suffering from acute bloat caused by torsion (twisting) of the stomach. This is one condition which constitutes a true emergency as these animals need surgery very early in the course of the bloat if they are to be saved.

Death by Chocolate: When to call the vet

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: As we enter the time of year where a lot of chocolate is about, we often get phone calls from owners wondering what to do after their pet has possibly or almost certainly eaten some chocolate, or cocoa containing cakes and biscuits.

Treating the Itch

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016:

Prescription Diets for Skin Disease

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: There are many skin conditions that we see on a regular basis, one of the most common being Canine Atopy which is essentially itchy skin caused by allergies. The severity of the disease is variable and can range from mild itching and redness to more severe skin and ear infections.

Case Study - The Bionic Dog and Cutting Edge Technology

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Zac presented to the clinic with left hind-limb lameness of a short duration. We took x-rays of his hock region (ankle), as a swelling was found in this area. This showed an osteosarcoma or bone tumour, these tumors generally hold a very poor prognosis and we often have to amputate the leg (non curative but can extend life expectancy).


Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Each week across our Napier, Waipukurau, Dannevirke and Masterton clinics our professional groomers are busy making dogs look pretty.

Reducing Feline Anxiety and the Dreaded Vet Visit

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Vet visits can be the stuff of nightmares for cats, and their owners! All too often we see cats that arrive at the clinic having cried for the entire car trip, possibly soiled their cage, and that are generally very stressed. They then get examined, maybe injected, and get back into the cage for the stressful return trip home.

Our Senior Pets

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: At around the age of eight our pets are classified as "seniors". From then on it is extremely beneficial to have a yearly blood and urine sample taken and have these tested to see how your pet's organs are functioning, and establish if there is anything we can do medically to help prolong a happy and healthy life and prevent or slow the onset of disease.

Barley Grass Season

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Barley Grass season is on its way and this pesky seed is a common problem for many dogs. Barley Grass seeds have a sharp barb at one end and are perfectly formed to penetrate skin and travel around the body. Spaniels and Beardies are at particular risk due to their hairy feet, but any dog can be affected.

Selecting Against Canine Hip Arthritis - Penn Hip

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Arthritis is one of the most common conditions we see in a variety of dog breeds and results in pain, loss of athletic ability, and worst case scenario euthanasia. Hip arthritis is common and can affect both young and old dogs. The primary cause of hip arthritis is excessive hip laxity otherwise known as hip dysplasia.

Vaccination of cats and dogs - Why it?s still important

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: For dogs, the use of effective vaccinations has meant that infectious diseases such as hepatitis and distemper, which previously used to kill large number of dogs, are now rarely seen. Unfortunately Parvo-virus is still often diagnosed and commonly causes death in younger puppies.

Dental Disease

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: In recent times dental disease in cats and dogs has become a major component of a Vet's daily case load. This may be because we now better recognise the discomfort this causes for our usually uncomplaining patients and potential for further disease to result from it if allowed to go un-treated.

Flea Treatment

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Now is a good time for treating fleas! With the cooler months almost upon us, now is a good time to remember that year round treatment is essential for good control of the flea population.

Pet Nutrition Q & A

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: What should I feed my new puppy or kitten? What are the advantages of the premium diets? Should I feed my dog bones? How do I get my pet to lose weight?

Pregnancy Testing Results for Cattle 2010

Read more >Friday 11th of March 2016: Virtually all the cattle pregnancy testing at Vet Services is now done by ultrasound scanning, allowing more accurate diagnosis of age of pregnancy, identifying twin calves if required, as well as being much gentler for the cows than the century-old practice of manual testing.

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