Laminitis Update’ (McGowan 2018) is an excellent summary of the key findings and practical implications of the scientific review ‘Paradigm shifts in understanding equine laminitis’ (Patterson-Kane et al. 2018).
The take- home points for the horse owner are:
• Laminitis is a clinical sign of underlying systemic disease. It is not a disease in its own right
• Insulin directly damages the cells that hold the pedal bone and the hoof wall together and causes laminitis
• Endocrine laminitis is the most common form of laminitis in horses and ponies presenting primarily with lameness
• The major endocrine disorders resulting in laminitis are Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and PPID (Cushings)
• Insulin causes laminitis, not fructans in the diet.
• It is how the horse or pony reacts to sugars that determines if they are at risk of developing laminitis due elevated insulin levels
• Insulin resistant horses and ponies do not have a problem until you feed them sugars
• Testing can be used to diagnose insulin dysregulation and as a management tool to monitor the response to certain feeds
• Although the sugar content of haylage can be lower (because it has been fermented away) it produces a bigger insulin response than hay.
• Understanding the causes of laminitis, the role of insulin and monitoring insulin levels means the condition can be efficiently managed
Professor Cathy McGowan is the Head of Department of Equine Clinical Science and Director of Veterinary Postgraduate Education at the University of Liverpool
McGowan C. 2018. Laminitis Update. British Horse, April, pp 30 – 32
Patterson-Kane J.C., Karikoski N.P. and McGowan C.M, 2018. Paradigm shifts in understanding equine laminitis. The Veterinary Journal 231 pp.33-40