There are three factors that consistently put horses at risk for laminitis: Recent weight gain, soreness after routine farriery care and a previous history of laminitis.
Dr. Danica Pollard conducted an online study of horse owners in Britain to determine the management factors that contributed to laminitis development. The study ran for 29 months; the participants submitted a questionnaire that determined baseline management, then follow-up questions were sent. Laminitic episodes were reported separately.
Published in BMC Veterinary Research, the study had 6,953 questionnaires representing 1,070 horses and ponies. The median number of submissions per horse was four. The research team analyzed the surveys and determined that there were 16 variables associated with laminitis development. These included:
- weight gained during the study
- native pony breeds
- a trimming or shoeing frequency greater than eight weeks
- a previous history of laminitis, particularly when previous episodes were not veterinary-diagnosed
- recent use of steroidal or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- lameness due to soft tissue injury
- longer recovery periods following the most recent laminitis episode
- benzimidazoles used for the most recent worming
- lameness or foot soreness following trimming or shoeing
Risk factors were also identified around turnout and grazing management. Horses that were turned out only in the morning were at higher risk of laminitis than those horses that were turned out at other times of night or day. Horses that wore grazing muzzles for only part of their time on pasture were also more at risk than horses that wore muzzles all the time they were turned out.
From the study, the researchers also noted that horses fed ryegrass forage has a higher risk of laminitis; horses turned out to pasture that boarded woods had a reduced risk of laminitis.
The study team was able to identify an association between several animal and management factors. These will be used to develop recommendations for equine management among the most-modifiable, like weight gain.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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