Finding the perfect feeding regime for a laminitis-prone horse is no mean feat – so how can you find the best option for yours?
Laminitis is a complex and multifactorial disease, for which nutritional management is crucial to reduce the risk of occurrence as well as in the ongoing management of horses prone to it. The overall aim is to manage the horse’s weight, which most commonly involves weight loss, by providing a well-balanced diet that should be high in fibre but low in sugar and starch. Maintaining healthy body condition is crucial because additional body fat can increase the mechanical load on the sensitive laminae in the horse’s foot and negatively affect hormonal activity in his body.
Natural antioxidants can be beneficial for horses with laminitis, too. Antioxidants can help mop-up free radicals – produced as part of the body’s internal response to stress – that may cause oxidative damage. Digestive support in the shape of yeast – a probiotic – and mannan-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides – both prebiotics – can support the beneficial microbes in the hindgut. Microbial imbalance in the hindgut has been significantly linked to increased risk of laminitis.
Analysing the nutritional content of your grass, hay or haylage is a great idea when managing a horse who’s prone to laminitis, too. Choosing a forage option that’s low in sugar and starch is vital because roughage should make up the majority of your horse’s diet.
Regularly checking your horse’s body condition score can help you see whether the management changes you’ve made are helping. For information on how to body condition score your horse, please see Dodson & Horrell’s ‘Right Weight’ Factsheet.
Finding the right feed
If you’re looking for a feed to support a healthy weight, Dodson & Horrell has a few options to choose from.
For individuals who maintain their bodyweight easily and have a forage-based diet, a balancer that’ll provide essential vitamins and minerals is ideal. A good quality comprehensive balancer, such as Dodson & Horrell’s Go Lite Balancer, is a suitable choice. It’s the lowest energy balancer in the range and contains probiotic yeast, antioxidants, as well as nettle, seaweed and a hoof support package.
For horses with restricted turnout that need their forage ration topped up, Dodson & Horrell’s Safe & Sound is a fibre-based feed that’s low in sugar and starch, so will help contribute to your horse’s daily fibre intake, as well as providing essential vitamins and minerals. It has the added benefits of containing digestive support, antioxidants, methylsulfonylmethane and a hoof support package.
For more information, visit dodsonandhorrell.com