As a mild winter rolls into a plentiful spring thoughts go to those horses that suffer most at this time of year – laminitics. Allen & Page nutritionist Rachel Parrott BSc (Hons) helps you to spot the condition and provides some prevention tips.
Signs to look for:
Laminitis tends to affect both front feet although it can affect any, or all feet at any one time.
LAMINITIS SHOULD BE TREATED AS A VETERINARY EMERGENCY.
If you observe any of the following signs of acute laminitis, call your vet immediately:
• Your horse is lame and reluctant to move, making only small, careful, ‘pottery’ strides. This may be more noticeable on a turn or on hard surfaces.
• Your horse may look as if he is putting his heel to the ground before his toe when he is walking.
• The ‘laminitic stance’ is characteristic of the condition, with the forelegs stretched forwards and weight shifted onto the heels to relieve pressure from the toes.
• Your horse may appear uncomfortable, shifting weight from one foot to another.
• In severe cases, your horse may become recumbent (lying down).
• Your horse’s coronary band may be unusually warm, but this is an unreliable sign.
• You can feel a pounding digital pulse in the pastern.
• Your horse’s sole is abnormally sensitive to pressure.
While waiting for the vet you can make your horse more comfortable by:
• Putting him in a stable on deep shavings, paper or sand bedding – try to avoid straw as your horse may eat it.
• Removing feed and hay, but not water.
• Allowing him to lie down if wanted.
Tips to avoid laminitis
1. Ensure your horse is a healthy weight as obese horses are at greater risk of developing the disease.
2. Limit the soluble sugars your horse consumes: molasses, cereals and lush grass can all be high in either sugar or starch.
3. Restrict grazing by either strip grazing your pasture or placing a grazing muzzle on your horse.
4. Avoid turnout on days when it is very cold but very bright and sunny as the fructan concentration will be at its highest. Wait until the temperature has risen and any frost on the grass has melted.
5. Ensure you feed a high fibre, low sugar, low starch diet. Feeds such as Fast Fibre and ‘L’ Mix are ideal.
6. Avoid high energy forages such as haylage. It may be an idea to soak your hay for 12 to 16 hours also, as this will remove any soluble sugars that remain in the forage from the harvesting process.
Allen & Page’s Fast Fibre is barley and molasses free making it very low in starch and sugar and suitable for horses and ponies at risk of laminitis. Fast Fibre contains quality fibre sources as well as soya oil and linseed for essential Omega 3 oils. Fast Fibre is balanced with vitamins and minerals and also contains prebiotics to help maintain a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Fast Fibre RRP: £7.50 – £9.30, prices may vary depending on location.
For further information, contact our friendly nutrition team on 01362 822902, email us at [email protected] or visit our website www.allenandpage.com