Kentucky Veterinarian Seeing Increase in Laminitis Cases

By Kimberly S. Graetz

Dr. Rhonda Rathgeber, a veterinarian with Hagyard-Davidson-McGee veterinary firm in Lexington, Ky., specializes in performance horse problems. She said in the past 10 days, she has seen "a lot of riding horses lame with an associated colitis (inflammation of the large or small colon). I've talked to one other vet who has seen the same thing," she said. It is unknown whether this increase in laminitis is associated with the other problems currently running through the horse industry and thought to be caused by mycotoxins.

Dr. Rathgeber said she has seen about eight horses in the last 10 days showing signs of colitis, fever, and laminitis. She said that number is as many as she normally sees in one year. Most cases involved horses which had chronic foot or lameness problems in the past.

"Some are foundering on all four feet. I see them and they are planted. It's scary the first day," explained Rathgeber. "We treat them with Bute and banamine and vasodilators, and they respond very quickly."

Rathgeber has been telling her riding horse clients to take the same precautions being used by broodmare managers--restrict grazing and use the mycotoxin binder feed additive. She also says owners should look for classic laminitis signs, such as sore in front, inappetence (loss of appetite), rocking back to take weight off the front feet, colitis, and fever.