Managing Nutrition for Horses with Laminitis

As any veterinarian or farrier will tell you, laminitis is one of the top diagnoses made in horses on a regular basis. Since this painful disease is preventable in many cases and difficult to manage once diagnosed, knowing the triggers and ways to prevent it is key to a healthy horse. Understanding horse nutrition when you are managing a horse with laminitis is important for the best possible outcome.

Common Laminitis Triggers

Laminitis is a complex disease related to equine metabolic syndrome, Cushing’s disease (PPID) and other systemic inflammatory diseases. Commonly, laminitis is caused by being overweight. It can also be triggered from elevated insulin levels due to Cushing’s disease. Horses that break into the grain bin or that turned out on spring grass for too long are highly prone to acute laminitis because the sugars in the feed rapidly alter the blood insulin.

For horses with PPID/ Cushing’s disease, reoccurring insulin level changes should be regularly monitored with blood work and managed with a low carb, low sugar diet with added minerals and vitamins.

Certain horse breeds and ponies that tend to be cresty or overweight also are highly prone to insulin resistance, which frequently causes chronic laminitis.

Supporting Dietary Needs for a Horse with Laminitis

If your horse has been diagnosed by your vet or farrier, proper treatment is key to stave off reoccurring bouts of inflammation and permanent hoof damage. Managing diet becomes a key factor in keeping your horse pain-free.

The recommended management for horses with laminitis:

  • No grass, grains or treats that contain high levels of sugar or starch
  • Soak hay for an hour before feeding to reduce carbohydrates
  • Add a vitamin-mineral supplement that contains selenium and vitamin E that has little filler so the overall carbohydrate load stays low
  • Provide a plain white salt block
  • Omega-3 supplement will help reduce inflammation
  • Have your veterinarian and farrier work together in order to put your horse’s hooves at the right angle for the most relief

Horses that are given Pergolide to manage PPID may go off their feed while ramping up to the full dosage and must be handled carefully to avoid rapid weight loss.

Get ahead of a laminitis diagnosis by giving your horse the proper nutrition she needs to stay healthy and sound. If your horse has been diagnosed with equine metabolic syndrome or another similar inflammatory disease, supporting their dietary needs with horse probiotics can be a useful tool for overall optimal health.

We recommend Horse Guard Trifecta


About Del Johnson P.A.S.

Equine Nutritionist, Founder of Horse Guard Del created Horse Guard in ’78 after noticing selenium supplementation in cattle and sheep; yet nothing was on the market for horses. Since then, Del and his wife, Lori have put their heart and soul into creating the strong brand we know today, Horse Guard. Raising their two daughters, Ty and Kelsey around horses has kept the girls intrigued in equine nutrition as well, enough so that they are both deeply involved in the business today. Del and Lori are slowly “loosening the reins” on these two and enjoying every minute of it. View all posts by Del Johnson P.A.S.

One Response to “Managing Nutrition for Horses with Laminitis”

  1. Kris Rees says:

    I trad this article & I dont even have a horse!! Well written, Kels!’

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