Life after Laminitis
I’d like to introduce you to Argentum, aka Argie, a 16-year-old Holsteiner owned by Frances Hughes of Victoria, Australia. Argie was at the top of his game, competing in dressage, show jumping, working equitation, and 1* level eventing, but then five years ago, he developed the devastating condition of laminitis. Frances was puzzled at first because Argie wasn’t kept on pasture–but instead on a track system with hay and a low-sugar diet.
Argie was unable to stand or walk for several days, and he also developed pedal osteitis, a condition where the pedal bone (coffin bone or P-3) becomes inflamed, causing bone demineralization. Since he was already barefoot, Frances chose to protect his feet with heavily padded boots and after the first couple of weeks, encouraged him to walk several times a day.
Argie was tested for PPID (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction) and also IR (insulin resistance), but both tests came back negative. (Incidentally, both conditions are not always a straightforward diagnosis.) However, after Argie began to relapse, Frances’ vet suggested starting him on pergolide, which soon proved successful in controlling his symptoms.
“In hindsight, other symptoms Argie showed were: frequent urination, excessive drinking, weight loss, muscle loss, and frequent eye infections,” Frances noted.
Frances had Argie’s diet analyzed to ensure his mineral balance was correct and to ensure he wasn’t getting any excess sugar in his diet, and he began his road to recovery.
“His feet were well balanced and during the crisis were supported with padded boots. This prevented any rotation or significant sinking,” she said.
Although Argie completely recovered from the laminitis, other small injuries forced Frances to retire him from eventing a year later.
“It took some time to find the correct dose and I basically kept increasing it until the frequency of urination returned to a more normal level,” said Frances.
Frances relayed that Argie can miss a few days of medication during competitions, but if he goes without it for more than ten days, he becomes unwell and takes some time to recover.
“I am pleased that processes are underway to see whether pergolide can be permitted in competition horses,” she noted.