Laminitis Prevention

lami31. Manage your horse’s weight: Keep your horse fit and slim. Laminitis has been linked to insulin resistance and by keeping your horse slim, the risk of insulin resistance is lowered.

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2. Feed a low starch, low sugar diet: Nutritionally triggered laminitis can be due to excessive starch in the diet, or a high intake of fructan from grass. These simple sugars are highly fermentable in the hind gut of the horse and can cause high acid levels.

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3. Feed a probiotic and prebiotic: Feed a balancer that contains both a prebiotic and a probiotic. This is a simple, yet very effective way of maintaining good gut health and aiding the digestion of starch and fructan.

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4. Avoid fructans: The level of fructan in grass can vary with the changing seasons. The spring and autumn growing seasons are when fructan is at its highest level. With our winters becoming milder and our summers becoming wetter, the growing season has become extended. Because of this, it is important to observe grass growth. Not only should you monitor the field that your horse is grazing, you should keep an eye on surrounding fields that are not grazed to get an idea of how fast the grass is growing and therefore how much your horse is eating.

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5. Graze your horse at the safest periods during the growing season: Turn out late at night and bring in before mid-morning as this is when fructan levels tend to be at their lowest. Do not turn out on a frosty morning because as the temperature increases so will the fructan content of the grass. Long mature grass can also contain high levels of fructan so graze your horses on shorter grass. Turn out on managed pasture but do not turn out on to recently cut grass as fructans are stored in the stem.

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6. Never starve your horse or pony to maintain their weight and always feed adequate fibre: Starving your horse can cause digestive upsets and lead to problems such as colic. To reduce sugar intake, feed good quality but low grade hay and fibre. You can soak hay to further reduce its fructan and calorie content.

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7. Avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies: Make sure that your horse receives the optimum levels of vitamins and minerals on a daily basis to maintain health and well-being. Feeding a restricted diet can help to maintain your horse’s weight and reduce sugar and cereal intake. However, it is important to remember that by restricting the diet you will also reduce the intake of essential vitamins and minerals. Supplement your horses with a good quality balancer to ensure they receive the correct levels of vitamins and minerals.

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8. Contact your vet and farrier: If you suspect your pony has laminitis contact to your vet immediately. Your vet can prescribe pain killers to make them more comfortable and can reduce the severity of the case if contacted promptly. Your farrier’s expertise will help promote the quickest possible recovery. Remember not only natives are susceptible to laminitis. Laminitis can occur in any breed of horse or pony.

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