Winter laminitis occurs in cold weather and occurs mostly in older horses. Dr. Worth describes why it occurs and how to prevent winter laminitis. Laminitis is a condition that affects the sensitive inner structures (the laminae) of the hooves in equines.
Laminitis is a serious condition that can cause severe lameness, permanent damage to the hooves, and in severe cases, leads to founder which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the bones in the horse's hoof rotate and sink within the hoof capsule. Laminitis is often caused by a diet that is too high in sugar and starch. In horses that are overweight, the increased weight on their hooves can also increase the risk of developing laminitis.
Symptoms of laminitis include reluctance to move, increased digital pulse in the affected hooves, warmth in the hooves, and a shifting of weight from one hoof to the other. In severe cases, the horse may be unable to bear weight on the affected hooves, and there may be visible signs of pain or discomfort.
Winter laminitis is a form of laminitis that occurs during the cold winter months. Like 'regular' laminitis, it too is caused by metabolic changes. The key difference is the underlying cause of that metabolic change: for winter laminitis cases, it is the cold exposure which causes a loss of blood flow to the legs and hooves of the horse.