Happy Thanksgiving from the counter top!! I hope everyone had too much to eat. I got a plate of leftovers from Dr. Lacher and boy they were good. My broken foot is coming along well. I have a recheck visit Tuesday to get my splint redone. In the meantime I feel much better when my tummy is rubbed followed by treats in case you should stop by the office this week, hint…hint…Anyway on to the topic at hand this week: Laminitis
Dr. Lacher and Shawn Jackson recently attended the Laminitis Symposium in Palm Beach.
We will start with new therapies. There was lively discussion regarding Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Stem Cells. There was some excellent work showing Stem Cells to be a potentially effective part of therapy for the worst type of laminitis known as sinking. This typically occurs in very sick horses. This form of laminitis involves failure of the lamina around the entire hoof. Stem Cells were one component of aggressive therapy and it is important to note success rates were still only around 40%. Other treatments used alongside stem cells included very specific trimming methods based on x-rays of the hoof and full hoof casts. PRP was also discussed as a therapy for laminitis both early in the disease and in older, chronic cases. PRP is thought to provide the framework for a horse’s own stem cells to settle on. PRP also releases signals which call stem cells to the area.
Foot casts were also talked about as a way to support the chronic laminitis horse. In fact, Dr. Lacher has already placed them on one horse. They allow us to fully support the foot and transfer weight to the fetlock. Chronic laminitis is always about trying to get the foot to grow out, supporting the hoof and keeping infections at bay. This leaves the infection part to deal with. Maggots are excellent for use as a therapy in this area. Dr. Lacher has used medical maggots for this purpose before and learned several new uses while attending the conference. One case used maggots to treat a deep puncture wound from a nail!
Many of the laminitis cases we see are because our horses have a metabolic disorder such as Cushing’s or Equine Metabolic Syndrome (also known as Insulin Resistance). Dr. Nicholas Frank, a leading researcher in this area, talked about his experience managing a herd of affected horses. One of the biggest things he learned was that horses with Equine Metabolic Syndrome are MUCH more susceptible to Cushing’s disease at younger ages than normal horses. He found Cushing’s in horses as young as 12 years!! Dr. Frank believes this is secondary to oxidative changes or perhaps insulin stimulating overgrowth in the pituitary gland. The important take home point was to monitor insulin levels in suspected horses, control diet in affected horses and test for Cushing’s early in this population. Because of discussion with Dr. Frank, Dr. Lacher added our Senior Preventative Package to the Springhill Equine Wellness Program. She feels this will help us identify Metabolic Syndrome and Cushing’s horses early. Radiographs of the front feet are included to help us identify subtle coffin bone angle changes and institute therapeutic trimming or shoeing before your horse has a crisis.
That is just a start of what Dr. Lacher and Shawn learned at the Laminitis Symposium. It was an amazing group of some of the best researchers on laminitis! For an added bonus ask Dr. Lacher about the research on the wild horses of Australia.
That’s the musings from the counter top this week. Well the bench actually. I can’t jump all the way up to the counter top right now. May your food bowl be full and your litter box clean!