Equine Laminitis

Image of horse legs.

Have you noticed changes in your horse's gait? Are they showing signs of fatigue or are disinterested in exercising? Equine laminitis is inflammation of the sensitive and insensitive laminae in horse's feet and generally occurs bilaterally in the front feet. This multi-faceted issue tends to run in heavier breeds such as draft horses as well as morgans, ponies, miniature horses and donkeys. Because laminae protect the coffin bone, when it is weakened, the wall to bone connection can become disrupted and sink. This situation can eventually lead to penetration of the sole. Your horse does not have to live with this painful condition. Particular equine lifestyle concerns such as nutrition play one of the most significant roles in how laminitis develops and is controlled.

While certain risk factors such as Cushing's Disease, severe colic, other injuries that affect gait and high fever can significantly contribute to the formation of laminitis, many horse owners are shocked to learn their feeding rituals could be the major cause of the condition. Allowing horses to grain-load by feeding themselves without supervision or feeding excessive amounts all at once are serious risk factors that often lead to equine laminitis. While changing feeding behavior immediately can significantly help prevent future inflammation, damaging effects to the laminae may have set in.

If your horse exhibits the following, they may be experiencing laminitis:
• Reluctance to follow owners while being led and propensity to lie down during activity
• Will appear to have transitioned weight to back legs with back legs further forward
• Hooves may be warmer than normal with bounding pulses in the affected legs
• Pain response upon applying pressure to the foot

Even if your horse is not currently suffering from laminitis, prevent the condition now by observing their eating behavior. Consider a dry area where grass has been removed if you notice your horse excessively eating grass or create an area for your horse to roam that takes longer for them to reach the grass. A feeding muzzle will also allow your horse to graze, but in much smaller amounts. Limiting or removing their grain intake and alternating to beet sugar can also ensure your horse receives adequate nutrition, but without causing digestive inflammation that leads to laminitis.

Is your horse suffering from laminitis? A comprehensive treatment approach that focuses on reducing pain, modulating inflammation and improving overall stability is most ideal. Talk to your veterinarian for a specific treatment plan.

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

9:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

--

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Kath, thank you so much for being Greyson's vet, your gentle hand, compassion and great skill made all the difference for my buddy."
    --Deirdre Dekking, Portland
  • "Dr. Mertens is a very friendly, knowledgeable equine veterinarian (and a friend to the rest of the farmyard, including the chickens!). Always up to date on the latest in equine health, and even though Mertens Mammals is a small clinic giving you the personable experience, Dr. Mertens also has equipment for more advanced diagnostics and procedures!"
    —Ari Gordon, Boring
  • "I have been a client of Mertens Mammals for 10 years. Kath (Dr. Mertens) is the most kind, thoughtful and caring Vet I have ever had for my animals. I have 3 horses: my Appy "Breeze" who turns 30 this year, my Paint " Rocket " 14 and my other Paint "Fergie " 3 are all under Kath's care. I also had a dog "Cowboy" who I lost to cancer last July. Kath took care of him also. Dr.Mertens came out on Mother's Day about 7 years ago to treat Breeze for a cut above her right eye. After a few weeks of recovery we were happy to not have a huge scar. Kath also spent 2 hours with me 3 years ago when Rocket had a small case of colic. (Thank God). I couldn't ask for a better person to take care of my girls. Kath always calls to check in on the patients. When people ask who I use for my veterinary needs for my horses, I'm always proud to refer them to Mertens Mammals. I am so thankful for an honest and caring Vet. Thank you, Kath!"
    --Michelle Schatz, Portland
  • "I got looking at Sassy’s records and it will be 6 years in July when you first met Sassy—I feel so fortunate that you became her vet and have looked after her all these years. You are such a wonderful and caring doc and I know you always have Sassy’s best interests at heart. I also know I can always rely on you to help me or Sassy when needed. Thanks for all you do for both of us—will keep you posted on Sassy.”"
    —Judy Becker, Eagle Creek
  • "My horse, Pester, would have lost her eye had it not been for the great care and dedication by Mertens Mammals. They are truly there for you any time you need them. I could go on and on. Kath Mertens has been so good to us!"
    --Troy and Wendy Mohr, Estacada
  • "She has always been there for us. She is forever in my thoughts as the best vet. She saved our hours old filly from certain death. She knew exactly what to do in an instant after just seconds in seeing her. We are forever in your debt...thank you!"
    Barbara T.
  • "Thank you Dr Mertens for such a thoughtful and careful job with our sweet Daisy the Donkey this morning! She is well on her way to health again after that abscess!"
    Suzi C.