Hot flash: LAMINITIS by Dawn Jenkins

Dr. Jan Young DVM CF is a leading veterinarian, referral farrier and educator from Arizona USA. This is an extract from an article in which she discusses possible causative factors leading to founder/ laminitis and subsequent treatments.

Treatment Program
For treatment, Young starts with a good set of lateral and dorsal-palmar radiographs to evaluate the exact location of the bone inside the hoof capsule.

“There is no way to guess,” Young says. “I would not trim the foot until I have seen the radiographs and see where the coffin bone is. Once the initial films are taken, trimming can be done, if necessary, to restore the hoof pastern axis, nothing more. New radiographs may be needed with markers to account for the placement of the frog support in the heart bar shoe. A heart bar should never be applied without radiographs!”

She tapes a metal marker (horseshoe nail, wire or paper clip) on the dorsal wall at the coronary band. The marker enables her to accurately measure the distance between the dorsal wall and P3. Normal distance on a light breed horse is 18 to 19 millimetres. If this distance increases, laminar swelling has occurred.

Getting Frog Support
Young prefers not to wedge a horse, as it is often difficult to get the horse down to a normal angle again. Her method of choice in achieving frog support without sole pressure is a heart bar shoe with hospital plate, but she has also had some excellent results using plastic Imprint Shoes.

She purchased the new flexible therapeutic heart bar shoes at the 2003 AFA convention to have on hand for the heat- related laminitic cases she knew would come. Developed by farrier Andrew Poynton of England, the Imprint Shoes (www.imprintshoes.com) become soft and pliable in hot water. A small bead of two-part adhesive is dispensed within the rim, then the cuffed shoe is stretched over the hoof capsule, shrinking and moulding to the foot as it cools.

“I’m very happy with the Imprint Shoes,” Young says. “The horses are so much more comfortable. They stay on well. The shoes work better than I had expected”

Young strives to get the horse off anti- inflammatory drugs (including phenythutazone, commonly called bute) within about 2 weeks. She feels that continued, unmanageable pain is a poor prognosis – so comfort is the key. If the horse isn’t comfortable, she looks for toe-wall seroma, a build up of fluids.

“Fluid in the hoof capsule can be frustrating,” she says. “Whether from seroma pockets or abscesses, you may not be able to visualize them on radiographs and not know that they are there. They migrate and break out at the heel and at the coronary band. They are very painful – as if you hit your thumb with a hammer and develop a blood blister under the finger nail”

Extract from an article that first appeared in American Farriers Journal – May/June 2004 Vol. 30 No. 4.

Reprinted with permission from American Farriers Journal, P.O. Box 624, Brookfield, WI USA 53008-0624.
© 2004 American Farriers Journal