Laminitis more prevalent in winter, British study finds

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laminitisLaminitis is a year-round threat to horses, according to World Horse Welfare.

A senior official with the British charity labelled the traditional view that it was more likely to occur in spring a misconception.

World Horse Welfare has launched an educational leaflet on laminitis for horse owners. It covers everything from spotting the early signs of the disease to its treatment, management and prevention.

The free leaflet was developed off the back of World Horse Welfare-funded research that showed, contrary to myth, laminitis strikes throughout the year.

Sam Chubbock, the charity’s deputy head of UK Support, spent this week showcasing the laminitis leaflet at the British Equine Veterinary Association Congress.

“Whilst many people are aware of laminitis, there are still a lot of misconceptions that only certain types of horses are at risk or that it is more likely to occur in the spring time, so we wanted to address these myths in the leaflet and clearly set out the facts.”

Whilst laminitis is one of the most widely known equine diseases, a study undertaken by vet Claire Wylie in partnership with World Horse Welfare identified that it could affect more than 4000 horses in Britain every year.

The study also showed that laminitis occurred all year-round with no prevalence during the springtime, as previously perceived.

The research indicates there are in fact more incidences during the winter months, meaning owners must remain vigilant regardless of the time of year.

The study involved 28 veterinary practices over two years and its conclusions were published in The Veterinary Journal.

Chubbock said the leaflet provided information on the debilitating condition in a straightforward and reader-friendly format.

It sets out the different types of laminitis, explains how it affects the horse’s hoof, key symptoms and the treatment options.

Most importantly, it provides valuable advice on preventing the disease and covers the two major risk factors also identified by Wylie which include hormonal disorders such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, also known as Cushing’s Disease, and an inflammatory response following either carbohydrate overload or an inflammatory disease such as colic.

Chubbock continued: “Claire Wylie’s research study marked an important step in identifying laminitis risk factors and World Horse Welfare is once again working with the Animal Health Trust to fund the CARE about Laminitis study, which builds on Dr Wylie’s research.”

The CARE study needs horse owners to submit information about their equines in order to build up an extensive database which will be vital in learning more about laminitis risk factors. The information will ultimately help prevent and treat future cases.

The study is open to all horses, whether or not they have ever suffered from laminitis.

“I’d urge everyone who hasn’t already done so to sign up and help join the fight against this painful and life-threatening disease.”

World Horse Welfare’s laminitis leaflet can be downloaded from here

Find out more and register for the CARE about Laminitis study here

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