Hundreds of different drugs and supplements have been given to laminitic horses and ponies and it is questionable which, if any, have any benefit.
We cannot tell whether an individual drug or supplement helps the condition because it is only one part of our treatment and management regime.
If the horse gets better then it may be that it is the other parts of the treatment that is successful.
If we give a supplement and the laminitic deteriorates can we presume that it is not of benefit?
Many people will swear that a particular supplement, or other, has worked wonders for their laminitic horse.
About ten years ago, my daughter developed ME and we tried a large number of different (unsuccessful) treatments, and then after eighteen months she recovered when on no treatment. I believe that if she had been having treatment at the time then we would undoubtedly have attributed her recovery to that particular treatment.
Laminitic horses "recover" when sufficient stability of the pedal bone returns. Because many of the drugs or supplements that appeared to have made an individual horse better have apparently no benefit in other cases, then it may be that it just happened to have coincided when stability of the pedal bone returned.
But then again it may have brought about the recovery.
There are many hoof supplements available but I will generally recommend
Formula 4 Feet produced and marketed by Equi Life. www.equilife.co.uk
Farriers Formula from Life Data Labs Inc. www.lifedatalabs.com or may be purchased from your vet or from several retail outlets in the UK.
Biometh Z produced by Vetoquinol www.vetoquinol.co.uk and again can be purchased from your vet or from retailers.
I believe many horses will benefit from these supplements to improve horn growth of the feet, but I think they are of particular use following laminitis to maintain the integrity of the hooves and to try to reduce foot abscesses.
It is extremely difficult to predict how quickly a horse or pony will recover from laminitis, but will depend on the extent of the laminal separation that occurs in the developmental and acute phases.
Once an animal has had laminitis, the basement membrane is unable to repair fully, so that they will always have weaker laminae and will thus be more prone to suffering further episodes.
We do not yet have any medical means of preventing the triggering of laminitis or stopping the progression of the laminal separation once it has started.
Many cases of laminitis follow problems occurring in other parts of the body, most commonly from conditions affecting the intestines.
Prompt and vigorous treatment of these toxic conditions should be given and may include fluids, electrolytes, antibiotics and anti-endotoxic drugs.
(I believe that, as well as Strep. Bovis, other bacteria such as pseudomonas and vibrio have been shown to produce a laminitis trigger factor, so careful consideration should be given as to which antibiotic is used when treating infections.)
Liquid paraffin / mineral oil may be given on one or more occasions, by stomach tube, in cases of grain overload. It is a laxative and may block the absorption of toxins.
I give very few drugs or supplements to the cases of laminitis that I see. (Most cases I see are sugar overdose in under-used and over-weight horses and ponies)
- Pain relief - NSAIDs
- Hoof supplements
I try to control the pain with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) E.g. Phenylbutazone (Bute), Ketoprofen Flunixin or Vedaprofen.
The choice of drug will depend on the individual case, the severity of the laminitis and the length of time of treatment.
A balance has to be made between giving a sufficient dose to alleviate pain and not too much so that the animal feels comfortable enough to move around, which is contraindicated in the developmental and acute phase. The dose should be reduced as soon as possible.
Note NSAIDs are reported to slightly potentiate enzyme degradation in hoof explant experiments!
This is a sedative but also vasodilates the blood vessels. (It inhibits constriction)
If ACP is given in the early stages of laminitis, when a trigger factor is still present in the blood it may allow a higher dose of trigger to reach the laminae. It is more likely to help after the acute phase when healing is required.
ACP also has another metabolic effect, increasing the production of insulin and breaking down glycogen in the liver to produce glucose. This may well be beneficial by increasing the uptake of glucose in the hoof to help maintain the integrity of the epidermal basal cell layer. (See pathogenesis glucose)