Laminitis also called founder is a disease of the hoof, causing pain and lameness that can range from from mild to devistating.


Laminitis results from the disruption of blood flow to the sensitive and insensitive laminae within the foot, which secure the coffin bone to the hoof wall. While the exact mechanisms are complex and incompletely understood. Although laminitis occurs in the feet, the underlying cause is often a disturbance elsewhere in the horse's body.


Diseases that can precipitate laminitis include:


  • Grain overload, ingestion of large quantities of lush grass
  • High fever
  • Diarrhea, Colic
  • Severe stress/Surgery
  • Toxins, such as Black Walnut
  • Retained Placenta
  • Excessive weight bearing, support limb laminitis
  • Excessive concussion (road founder)
  • High steroid levels, administered or from Cushing's disease


Signs of acute laminitis include the following:


  • Lameness, especially when a horse is turning in circles; shifting lameness when standing
  • Heat in the feet
  • Increased digital pulse in the feet
  • Pain in the toe region when pressure is applied with hoof testers
  • Reluctant or hesitant gait, as if walking on eggshells
  • A sawhorse stance with the front feet stretched out in front to alleviate pressure on the toes.


Signs of chronic laminitis, often referred to as founder, may include the following:


  • Rings in hoof wall that become wider as they are followed from toe to heel
  • Bruised soles or stone bruisesî
  • Widened white line, commonly called seedy toe,î with occurrence of blood pockets and/or abscesses
  • Dropped soles or flat feet
  • Dished hooves, which are the result of unequal rates of hoof growth


Treatment of laminitis is best instituted early in the course of disease:


  • Pain relievers (NSAIDs)
  • Vasodilators
  • Mechanical support
  • DMSO- free radical scavenger


Removal of continued insults:


  • gastric lavage and mineral oil for grain overload
  • Stop all grain feeding and remove from pasture
  • Discontinue use of all steroids


Diagnosis and treatment of underlying conditions is essential:


  • Antibiotics if indicated
  • Anti-endotoxins
  • Fever reducers
  • Pergolide (treatment of Cushing's disease)
  • Specific treatments for inciting condition (retained placenta)


Once the acute laminitic episode is controlled, you must be vigilant as recurrent episodes or chronic laminitis can follow. Maintaining your horse on an appropriate diet and exercise program is essential. Each horse is an individual and specific recommendations are made for each case.


Radiographs are used to evaluate extent of disease and response to treatment. Working with an experienced farrier is essential. Some horses are best maintained barefoot others do best in specialized shoes. A dedicated team working together is essential for treatment success.


If you have questions regarding your horse, call us at 330.410.4899

3578 Hamlin Rd.  Medina, OH 44256   |   330.410.4899

Copyright ©2012-, Willow Creek Veterinary Service, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Designed by Aluby's Signs & Graphics.