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Laminitis in the healthy horse?

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  • Laminitis in the healthy horse?

    Hi folks,

    A few weeks ago my 14yo gelding came up very lame and xrays revealed abscesses in the toe area of both front feet. The vet was able to open both from the sole and they were mostly dry with no noticeable drainage. I have owned this horse since birth and he has literally never had an abscess in his life. He has good feet, no problems with cracks or thin soles. I know that unexplainable abcesses in both front feet can be a sign of laminitis. There were no signs of laminitis on the xrays but the vet said it does not always show up right away so I will have more xrays taken in a few weeks.

    Now here is the quandary... this horse does not have any signs of Cushings or IR. His weight is normal and he is fit and gets ridden 5 days a week. He maintains healthy weight without difficulty but he also is not an air fern who packs on weight easily. He is on 3lbs of quality low starch pelleted feed 2x daily.

    I am having him tested for Cushing’s just in case. He is on pasture board so it is somewhat difficult to have him fast so I wasn’t planning on testing for IR and my vet agrees it’s not necessary as he does not have any signs. Also, his pasture does have spring grass coming up and it is over-grazed which I know stresses and increases sugar levels but my understanding is that should not make a healthy fit horse develop laminitis. The grass itself is also sparse and the pasture is only approx 5 acres w/ 4 horses.

    So, my question for you is have you ever had a completely healthy (no IR or Cushings) fit horse spontaneously develop laminitis w/ no triggering event? Have you ever had a Cushings or IR horse who showed absolutely 0 signs of either condition?

    Many thanks in advance for your thoughts.
    LFC...Pass it on!!
    PRESTO: Foolsih Miracle x Salute the Truth

  • #2
    Why do you think this is laminitis and not just abscess?

    I've gone through several abscess rounds with my barefoot mare. She even had both front feet affected after I took her to an away clinic and she pranced around for 48 hours in a gravel paddock because she knew there was a stallion some where in the property.. Didn't come up lame at the time but two weeks later she abscessed in both front feet.

    I have never involved a vet in an abscess, have just soaked and wrapped under the guidance of my coach/ trimmer.

    Mare has never had any sign of laminitis.

    While repeat abscess can be one symptom of laminitis, an abscess with no other symptoms is more likely to be from a bruise.

    Comment


    • #3
      OP -- I assume you would have mentioned it as a symptom of IR, but does your horse have a hard crest?
      Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.

      Comment


      • #4
        I suspect laminitis because it’s in both front feet and my horse has never had an abscess in his life and he does not have thin or easily bruised soles. He had only been ridden in the ring at home, no unusual activity or outings.

        twelvegates - Nope, he’s not even a little cresty.
        Last edited by BarnBrat; Feb. 4, 2020, 05:59 PM.
        LFC...Pass it on!!
        PRESTO: Foolsih Miracle x Salute the Truth

        Comment


        • #5
          It's probably good to rule out everything else, but not having had an abscess before is not necessarily a sign that it's not just a normal abscess now. My 12 year old, who I've had since he was a yearling with no changes in diet/pasture/work had his first abscess last late winter/early spring. He has not had another one since.

          Comment


          • #6
            Abscess is not usually the first sign of laminitis.

            Laminitis shows up as heat in all 4 feet because it is systemic. And if it progresses to founder it leaves characteristic rings and a deformed shape as the coffin bone drops.

            Horses are prone to laminitis through over feeding and
            obesity that leads to metabolic problems (like pre diabetes in humans), from Cushing's, from acute infections and from concussion like ridung on too much pavement.

            It's good to do all the tests if you've got a vet on board already but I have seen so many horses get very occasional abscesses unrelated to laminitis that I would never think there was an obvious link.

            ​​


            Comment


            • #7
              I don't believe that healthy horses get laminitis without some external factor. (ie sudden over eating, road founder etc). My quarter horse's initial Cushing's symptom was being very tender footed after having his shoes pulled for the winter. After a course of bute to rule out just a short trim, I had him tested for both Cushings and insulin resistance. No insulin resistance, but he was hypo thyroid and had cushings. He started on 1/2 tablet of prescend and it has been gradually increased to 1 1/2 over the years and still his only symptom is ouch feet after a trim.

              Comment


              • #8
                OP, given some of the other posts at the moment, I want to applaud you for taking such initiative in making sure there’s nothing more here.

                I doubt it’s laminitis, but he is a horse. As such anything at all is possible.
                Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks everyone. If he didn’t have abscesses in BOTH front feet I wouldn’t be so suspect of laminitis and that there may be an underlying metabolic cause, despite the lack of typical symptoms of metabolic disease.
                  LFC...Pass it on!!
                  PRESTO: Foolsih Miracle x Salute the Truth

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                  • #10
                    He may have excellent feet, but if your weather is like ours ( constant wet) It is easy enough for a foot or 2 softened by wet living conditions to abscess all of a sudden.

                    As they age even a lifelong healthy horse can be sensitive to mild changes in their diet or living conditions and laminitis can happen. Any changes in hay source? What is the pasture ground like?

                    Being proactive is good and can bring peace of mind.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We have a horse at my barn that is positive for IR, but has no signs. I'm not certain how common that is, but there he is. He was tested for metabolic issues when he became tender on all four hooves a few winters ago. It was part of a general well being veterinarian visit and we were somewhat astonished with that result. Thankfully he has responded completely to a diet change and dry paddock.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Has your veterinarian given any thought to a possible keratoma?
                        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BarnBrat View Post

                          So, my question for you is have you ever had a completely healthy (no IR or Cushings) fit horse spontaneously develop laminitis w/ no triggering event?
                          I have a customer who's horse went lame about a week or two after I shod it. Both fronts hot,pulses and sore to hoof testers. I didn't see any obvious signs that it was a shoeing issue. She said don't worry about it this happens every once in awhile. I thought she was nuts! Next day the horse was sound. Only thing I can think is the horse had minor acute laminitis.

                          That said, it's a bit of a stretch to go from sudden acute laminitis to abscesses. Acute laminitis will cause pressure on the toe but you need a bacterial infection to get an abscess.

                          What I have seen, which sounds like what you had, a very small bacterial infection which went undetected in both feet. It got to the point it made the horse present lameness in both front feet. Vet suspected laminitis. I happened to dig around the feet a little. Found an abscess in both feet. Just like yours, very little fluid but enough to make it look like laminitis. Horse was sound in a day or two.

                          Eric Russell CJF

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            AMackenchie, ugh did not want to hear that. Was the horse at least a bit of an air fern or maybe slightly chubby? Also was the horse fit and in consistent work?
                            LFC...Pass it on!!
                            PRESTO: Foolsih Miracle x Salute the Truth

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BarnBrat View Post
                              AMackenchie, ugh did not want to hear that. Was the horse at least a bit of an air fern or maybe slightly chubby? Also was the horse fit and in consistent work?
                              This fellow belongs to a boarder and is a Morgan/Quarter Horse cross. He was in work as a pleasure mount; hacking out, dressage and etc...

                              He hadn't given us concern about metabolic issues. The horse had been with us for several years. He kept good weight with good management and was able to be out with a group of horses on pasture with no issues. Now, after he was tested and was positive for Insulin Resistance he began to develop some of the signs we equate with metabolic issues, such as the body changing with slight crest and he generates a good deal of smegma in the winter. He was 10 years old at the time of his diagnosis and is 14 now. He was always barefoot.

                              Thankfully his condition is controlled with the dry paddock and diet. We had the room here to make him a paddock off a stall. He's not too happy with this arrangement but he simply cannot have even a sprig of green. We did try, limiting his time out and adding a grazing muzzle, but any green affected the tenderness in his hooves and our farrier reported stretching of the laminae. With the diet limitations of simple first cutting in a hay net and zero green, his status has stabilized. His owner can ride him on soft ground lightly. She chooses not to shoe him and she and the horse seem to enjoy their partial retirement.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                A couple of random abscesses in the toes (diagnosed by a vet) without heat and a pulse are typically not the primary signs of Laminitis and think you might be jumping to the worst possible conclusions here with very little evidence.

                                Since these abscesses are in both toes and he lives outside, it sounds like he got tangled in something or got a couple of minor stone bruises, maybe stepped in rocks or a bottom rail pawing, maybe looking for grass, that developed into abscesses. Horses living out find all sorts of things to get into, even if we remove all possible hazards, and we never observe anything to explain the sudden appearance of cuts, bruises and the like.

                                If anything might be suspect in causing abscesses in otherwise healthy, properly managed horses, it’s consistent, wet ground. IIRC, NC has been experiencing record rainfall lately with no time between storms to really dry out. That’s where I’d be looking, maybe get him on drier ground even just temporarily.

                                And try not to panic.


                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I just had my son's Half-Arabian gelding tested for IR/Cushings. There were no clinical signs, but I had a hunch and wanted to be proactive or have a baseline, since I've had two cushingoids in the past. He's 17. Vet was not concerned, and thought if anything, he might be IR (easy keeper, but not grossly overweight by any means). Results: slightly positive, but positive nonetheless, for Cushings.

                                  It doesn't hurt to have them tested. For peace of mind if nothing else.

                                  Comment

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