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Laminitis may be harder to recognise than we think!

Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 by Sasha Melia

Horse owners throughout the UK are being urged to regularly check their horses for subtle signs of laminitis.


This follows recent research1 which revealed that nearly half (45%) of veterinary diagnosed laminitis cases were not recognised as the condition by their owners.Furthermore, when older horses were assessed by veterinary surgeons, hoof abnormalities were found to be present in 80% but were only identified by just over a quarter (27%) of owners2.


Care About Cushing’s

Recognising that subtle and early signs of laminitis can be difficult to spot, Boehringer Ingelheim has launched an educational resource for horse owners – – to help raise awareness of the link between laminitis and Cushing’s disease. A section of the website focuses on the signs of laminitis and owners can download a self-assessment laminitis checklist that makes spotting the signs easier, facilitating prompt diagnosis by their vet.Laminitis is one of the most consequential signs of Cushing’s disease and owners who are concerned about their horses are urged to consult with their vet about testing for Cushing’s disease (more correctly known as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction or PPID).


The Care About Cushing’s website provides horse owners with extensive information on Cushing’s disease to make spotting the signs easier, facilitating prompt diagnosis by their vet and helping to create the best management plan for their horse in order to maintain quality of life and reduce the risk of suffering associated with this disease. This includes monitoring tools, personalised alerts, owner guides and webinars and videos on useful techniques like condition scoring. There is also an ‘ask the expert’ section with a direct line to veterinary experts to ask questions on both Cushing’s disease and laminitis.


Signs of Cushing’s disease

In addition to laminitis, other signs of Cushing’s disease include: lethargy, increased thirst/urination, recurring infections such as foot abscesses and sinusitis, muscle wastage, coat changes, abnormal sweating and visible fat pads around the eyes (peri-orbital fat).


Talk About Laminitis

Talk About Laminitis runs throughout the year to raise awareness of the underlying hormonal causes of laminitis – Cushing’s disease and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS).  The initiative, supported by Redwings Horse Sanctuary, The British Horse Society (BHS) and World Horse Welfare is now in its seventh consecutive year.  As part of the scheme, the laboratory fees for the blood test which detects Cushing’s (the basal ACTH test) are free*.


“These great resources will provide essential guidance to equip horse owners with the knowledge to help them recognise laminitis earlier, which is a very painful disease for the horse,” comments Emmeline Hannelly, welfare education manager at The British Horse Society.


Redwings Horse Sanctuary’s head of veterinary and care Nicky Jarvis, says:”Laminitis is a devastating disease for both horse and owner so prevention is key. The Talk About Laminitis initiative provides a valuable platform for sharing knowledge and learning new skills – in particular, body condition scoring, which is vital for helping to keep your horse healthy. Knowing if your horse is at risk of laminitis due to underlying PPID is also essential, so I would encourage anyone to take advantage of the new Care About Cushing’s service and free testing offer, particularly for the older horse.”


World Horse Welfare deputy chief executive, Tony Tyler, adds: “We are pleased to once again support this scheme which not only raises awareness of PPID (Cushing’s disease) as an underlying cause of laminitis but also gives owners the chance to obtain a free test to check if their horse is suffering from the disease. Identifying more cases of PPID early ensures owners can access appropriate treatment options and receive support in managing the condition.


“I would urge horse owners to take advantage of the free Cushing’s test and support offered by the scheme.”


For further information on Talk About Laminitis and Care About Cushing’s, please visit, or contact your local veterinary surgeon.


*   Free laboratory test

Laminitis - hoof

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