What is Laminitis in horses?
Laminitis in horses is the second biggest killer of horses in the world following colic. It can be caused by many things but the two most common causes are insulin resistance (equine metabolic syndrome) and hindgut acidosis. Insulin resistance laminitis will be the most common one you will deal with.
How it is caused?
Nutritional laminitis is caused in one of two primary ways: 1. Insulin resistance where the horse cannot regulate its blood glucose levels with normal amounts of insulin. They generate massive amounts of insulin in response to the absorption of glucose from the gut and it is the insulin that causes the damage to the hoof. 2. Hindgut acidosis where starch from grains is rapidly fermented in the hindgut causing a build-up of acid, lowering of the gut pH and damaging the hindgut wall. Once the hindgut wall is damaged, bacteria or bacterial toxins travel into the bloodstream and to the hoof where they disrupt the function of MMP enzymes that control the connection of the hoof wall to the pedal bone.
What the horse needs.
Feeding management for horses with laminitis generally require a low sugar, low starch diet. The sugar and starch in a horse's diet is called the non-structural carbohydrates, or NSC.
ALL feeds and forages in the diet of a horse with laminitis should contain less than 12% NSC to help keep their blood glucose and insulin levels as low as possible and/or to prevent the passage of starch into the hindgut.