Don’t treat your horse ailments on the hoof

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With the advent of the warmer weather we have seen a flood of laminitis cases which is why we are holding an equine meeting about this subject at Morpeth Town Hall on April 19.

Laminitis is a painful and often debilitating condition affecting the feet of horses and ponies. The laminae, which are like interlocking leaves inside the hoof wall and surrounding the pedal bone (the largest bone suspended within the hoof capsule), hold the structures within the hoof in position.

With laminitis these laminae become inflamed and swollen which is extremely painful and this can lead to separation of the laminae so that the pedal bone is able to move.

The entire weight of the horse is suspended by the pedal bone so any slight change in the laminae can lead to disastrous consequences with rotation of the pedal bone in severe cases the tip of the triangular shaped bone can penetrate the sole of the hoof often leading to euthanasia on humane grounds as the pain is so unbearable the animals are unable to stand.

Often the causes of laminitis are due to an increase carbohydrate intake either due to inappriate feeding or more commonly lush spring grass.

The dietary aspects and control will be discussed by Louise Jones, area manager for Dodson and Horrell. She will give a talk on the dietary management of laminitis and answer any questions people may have. We also have two local farriers – Graeme Moran and Guy Errington – available to discuss any queries about trimming and shoeing of lamintics. This is a critical and vital part of the recovery of these horses.

Laminitis is often secondary to two other common equine conditions. Both Cushings syndrome, and equine metabolic syndrome are being increasingly diagnosed, due to better diagnostic techniques.

John Keen, senior lecturer in equine medicine at Edinburgh Vet School, will talk about both these syndromes.

Equine Cushings syndrome is a condition, generally seen in older horses and ponies due to a tumour in the pituitary gland in the brain.

This causes an increase in the production of the horses own cortisol (a steroid hormone). The symptoms seen are in effect due to a steroid overdose and include coat changes, increased thirst and often laminitis.

Equine metabolic syndrome is due to a resistance to insulin, leading to an increase in circulating blood glucose and as a result an increased risk of laminitis. John will speak about both these conditions in some detail.

We are hoping there will be a good attendance as this is a topic which many horse clients will have had some experience of. For further details please contact the surgery.

Other news from the practice includes the appointment of a new veterinary assistant, John Mulligan. He has recently started after graduating from Glasgow Vet School last year.

John, originally from Galway, will be covering all aspects of veterinary practice but does have an interest in both small animal and equine medicine.

We are preparing for the retirement of Anne Rutter after 24 years as receptionist at Robson and Prescott.

Anne will be replaced by Jill Anderson a keen eventer and local farmers daughter. Jill seems to be settling in well to her new job and we wish her well.

Chris Green, Senior Vet and Director