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Owners warned to be vigilant in laminitis ‘perfect storm’

Owners have been warned to be vigilant about laminitis this autumn, as factors combine to create a “perfect storm” for the potentially fatal disease.

Animal charity Blue Cross is reminding owners to be on the alert to the painful condition; all horses and ponies can be susceptible, although those who are overweight are at greater risk, and the most dangerous times are when the grass is growing.

“The combination of sun and rain we have been experiencing in most of the UK recently, coupled with many horses still out on summer pasture, significantly raises the risk factor for laminitis,” said Blue Cross horse welfare supervisor Clare Bevins.

“Add to the mix the fact some owners may still be struggling with their horses’ weight given limitations on riding during the pandemic, and potentially we have the perfect storm for laminitis.”

The charity has shared the story of rescue pony Piglet, a six-year-old obese 11.2hh mare, who suffered a severe bout of laminitis in autumn 2018, hoping it will inspire owners to act.

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The skewbald mare, who had pedal bone rotation in both front feet, had four months’ box rest and specialist vet and farrier treatment, including fortnightly trims and pads, and was put on a strict diet.

“Six months after returning to Blue Cross, X-rays showed that both front pedal bones looked normal,” a spokesman for the charity said. She has now been rehomed as a lead rein pony with a family who are very strict over her diet and exercise.

“Piglet was one of the fortunate ones – her laminitis was caught early and immediate steps taken to treat the disease under the supervision of a vet and a remedial farrier,” said Ms Bevins.

“Prevention of laminitis is always better than cure.”

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