Laminitis is a painful condition that affects the hooves of horses. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including dietary changes, excessive weight bearing, certain illnesses or injuries, or certain medications. Symptoms include tenderness in the hoof area, an increase in digital pulses, reluctance to move or stand for long periods of time, and a reluctance to bear weight on one or both front feet. If your horse exhibits any of the above symptoms, you should have him checked right away by your veterinarian. In addition to treatment prescribed by your veterinarian, you could consider using essential oils to support your horses hooves. Let’s take a closer look at laminitis symptoms, causes and treatments as well as what essential oils can be used to support a horse who has laminitis.
As mentioned above, the most common symptom of laminitis is tenderness in the hoof area. This can range from mild discomfort to severe pain depending on the severity of the condition. Other symptoms include increased digital pulses, lameness or difficulty walking or standing for long periods of time, and a reluctance to bear weight on one or both front feet. If these symptoms are present then it is important to seek immediate veterinary attention.
What Causes Laminitis?
The exact cause of laminitis is still unknown but it is thought to be related to changes in blood flow within the horse's hooves which can result from either dietary changes (such as too much grain) or excessive weight-bearing activities such as running on hard surfaces or carrying too much weight for extended periods of time. Other causes may include certain illnesses or injuries as well as certain medications that have been prescribed by veterinarians for other conditions.
The difference between laminitis and founder
Laminitis and founder are both problems that can affect a horse’s hoofs. Although there are similarities between the two conditions, they require different types of treatments. Laminitis is caused by inflammation in the laminae, which link the hoof wall to the coffin bone. This inflammation can cause major pain and can sometimes lead to founder if left untreated. Founder occurs when laminitis causes separation inside a horse’s foot, leading to unwanted rotation of the coffin bone within the hoof capsule. Founder is harder to treat than laminitis, as it is much more complex and permanent damage can be done if not dealt with quickly. This emphasizes just how important it is for horse owners to monitor their animals closely and seek help immediately from a a veterinarian if any signs of these illnesses occur.
What Herbs Are Good For Laminitis?
Herbs can be useful support for laminitis. Many herbs contain specific phytochemicals which can reduce inflammation and increase circulation, aiding in the recovery process. Comfrey root is widely used to reduce inflammation and supply nutritional support. Other herbs that may be beneficial include dandelion root, kelp, turmeric, and nettle leaf. Devils claw and yucca are also recommended to help with discomfort. Herbs are a natural source of nutrition and can help many horses make progress towards health. Additionally there are essential oils available that can support a horse with laminitis.
Essential Oil Support
The first step is to help keep your horse calm and relaxed. I like to try and achieve this with lavender essential oil. Other alternatives that work well are frankincense, cedarwood, and vetiver essential oil.
The easiest way to use a calming essential oil is by wearing it as a perfume so you become a calming walking diffuser for your horse. You can also add a drop to your palms with a dollop of coconut oil, and allow your horse to smell for as long as they want, then apply the residue on their poll or chest. You can repeat as often as needed.
Next using essential oils that can help cool a hoof can be beneficial. My go to's for cooling are peppermint or wintergreen. Rub a few drops onto your horses hoof and apply a few drops to the bottom of your horses hoof, if you can easily and comfortably pick the hoof up. You can also rub several drops onto the coronet band, but add a dollop of coconut oil first to dilute. If you are solely applying the hoof wall or bottom of hoof, no dilution is necessary.
Essential oils for discomfort can be priceless. My go to is PanAway™, an essential oil blend from Young Living™ Essential Oils, consisting of peppermint, wintergreen, helichrysum, and clove. Dilute this blend with a carrier oil and rub onto the coronet band and hoofs as often as needed. It's helpful to make an essential oil roller bottle by adding 20 drops of Panaway™ to a 10 ml roller bottle and filling up the rest with fractionated coconut oil. Then, it's pre-diluted and you can easily roll it on the hoof and coronet band. For a step by step guide to making a roller bottle, click HERE. You can also drop a few drops of Panaway™ onto the bottom of the hoof, undiluted.
Using essential oils like cypress, balsam fir, and lemongrass to support the circulatory system is beneficial as well. For this, I dilute the essential oils by making a spray and spray on the legs of the affected hoofs several times per day. To make a spray, I add 10 drops of each of the above oils to a 2 ounce glass spray bottle. Then I fill it up halfway with vodka and the remainder of the way with water. Shake well, then mist the legs and rub in. You can also spray on the hoof as well.
You can also support the hoof with copaiba, lemongrass, and cypress by making a hoof oil. To make a hoof oil, all you need to do is add 20 drops of each essential oil above, and add it to a cup of olive oil or coconut oil. Mix well by stirring and coat the hoof with a small amount daily or as needed.
Supporting your horse through their battle with laminitis or founder is not easy but understanding its symptoms and causes will allow you to contact your veterinarian quickly for help. Then you can consider supporting your horse during this difficult time with essential oils as an addition to veterinary care (not instead of).
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*Statements made have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prescribe, or cure any disease. If your horse has any abnormal symptoms, consult your veterinarian right away. Essential oils are only meant to support a horses well being, and should be used as an additional tool for the horse owner, not as a replacement for or instead of veterinary care.*