For equine practitioners, treating laminitis may seem like an unrewarding task that can leave patients unimproved (or worse)
and clients overwhelmed. So many treatment modalities, drugs and over-the-counter supplements are available that it becomes
frustrating just to develop a plan based on solid science.
If there are any pearls of wisdom I can give, they would be the following:
Photo 1: A grade I laminitic event associated with radiographic findings of mild rotation, good sole depth and fairly normal
horn-lamellar zone. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Floyd)
• Develop a protocol, and stick to it every time you treat a case of laminitis. Many changes can indicate the severity of
as well as signal either improvement in or progression of the disease, and you must learn to identify these signs. Consequently,
consistency in your approach to diagnosing and treating laminitis is critical.
Photo 2: A grade II laminitic event associated with radiographic findings of increased rotation, less sole depth and expanded
• If your protocol doesn't work, send the patient to a specialty hospital.
Photo 3: A grade III laminitic event associated with radiographic findings of increased rotation (greater than 10 degrees),
decreased sole depth and horn-lamellar zone with increased edema and distortion.
In my early days of practice, each time I got a call about a suspected laminitis case, I felt like I was doomed to failure
because there were no tried-and-true therapies. We had some ideas about which medications to administer, but these only relieved
the pain—they didn't treat the disease process. The horse was lame and was going to get better or not; it was that simple.
After being in practice some time, I began using the following protocol, which allowed me to approach these cases with confidence
and know whether I was dealing with a Grade I, II, III or IV laminitic event (Photos 1-4).
Photo 4: A grade IV laminitic event with radiographic findings that show evidence of solar prolapse, horn-lamellar zone edema
and rotation greater than 15 degrees.