Laminitis is one of the most severely painful and debilitating diseases affecting horses and ponies and represents a major reason for euthanasia of older equines. Laminitis is not just prevalent throughout the spring; horses and ponies with endocrine problems commonly suffer from laminitis during the autumn.
Current thinking and evidence suggests that 90% of laminitis cases occur as a result of an underlying hormonal condition such as Cushing’s Disease (PPID) or Equine Metabolic Syndrome. With this in mind, owners - particularly those with a horse over 10 years of age - are being urged to get their horse tested for Cushing’s as soon as possible if they suspect that it may be suffering from laminitis or even if it simply appears a little foot-sore.
Despite perception, Cushing’s Disease is not just a disease of old horses. Recent research by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica has revealed that one third of middle aged horses (between the ages of 10 and 15 years) tested positive for the disease, where laminitis was the most common first sign, not the 'classic' signs of Cushing’s such as a curly coat
Cushing’s Disease can be easily diagnosed by blood tests taken by your veterinary surgeon, and autumn is the best time for the test for Cushing’s as this is when there is a greater difference between horses with Cushing’s and those free of the disease.
If you suspect your horse has laminitis, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica offer free laboratory fees at certain times of year for the blood test used to detect Cushing’s disease as part of the initiative 'Talk About Laminitis'. This initiative, to raise awareness of the underlying hormonal causes of laminitis, is supported by The British Horse Society, World Horse Welfare and Redwings.
Please visit Talk About Laminitis to read more about laminitis and to download a voucher to cover the lab fee for a Cushings test. A fee will still be incurred for the visit and taking the blood sample and interpretation.
If your horse tests positive for Cushings, the disease can be treated and managed appropriately to help prevent future painful episodes of laminitis. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical if the crippling changes seen in the feet caused by laminitis are to be avoided.