Keeping Up: The Use of Foot Casts for Equine Laminitis Treatment

Veterinarians and farriers working together can treat laminitic horses with a combination of foot casts and wooden clog shoes. Amy K. Dragoo

Editor’s note: According to the AAEP owner survey, the top three things that horse owners want from vets are 24/7 coverage, a vet who values them and their horse and communicates well, and a practitioner who keeps up with medical advances. With that in mind, regular installments of Keeping Up will headline recent information to keep you abreast of research, advances and continuing education in the equine medical community.

At the North American Veterinary Conference (January 2016), Vernon C. Dryden, DVM, CJF, APF, of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, approached the subject of treating equine laminitis from various angles. EquiManagement is running a series of articles based on his presentations.

Decades ago, it was common practice to apply foot casts for treatment of equine laminitis cases. This treatment method is being revisited again.

As Dryden explained, the use of foot casts seems to be particularly helpful to sinkers with distal displacement of the pedal bone. The objective is to eliminate collateral movement of the hoof capsule while also allowing the dome effect on the bottom of the cast to enable a horse to find a comfortable standing position that minimizes torsional forces on the hoof.

As with any cast, excellent aseptic practices are important for application as well as constant monitoring and frequent cast changes. The foot casts are changed at 3-4 week intervals and maintained on the horse until 50% of the vertical length of the hoof has grown out. This treatment is followed by application of a wooden clog shoe that is reset every 4-5 weeks for a duration of 4-6 months.

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