Should the horse with acute laminitis be walked to increase blood flow thought he feet?
Answer: NO! Walking, trailering, or even self exercise by the horse can result in further damage to the feet.
Logic: Walking the horse with acute laminitis was once a recommended therapy for acute laminitis. At the time walking was a recommended therapy it was thought that blood flow through the foot was decreased during the acute phase of the disease. Recent studies have indicated that foot blood flow during the acute phase is increased rather than decreased. A second series of studies has shown that indicated that by the time lameness first appears in laminitis, there is already considerable damage in the laminar interface. This damage results in a weakening of the laminar interface that is responsible for attaching the third phalanx (coffin bone) to the hoof wall. Where the normal strength of the laminar interface ranges from 400-500 pounds/square inch, the strength of the acutely affected interface can be as low as 40 pounds/square inch.
Since the blood flow is already increased in acute laminitis, there is no real need to increase flow by walking. Furthermore, walking the horse increases the risks of causing mechanical tearing of the weakened laminar interface. It is for these same reasons that stall confinement of all horses with acute laminitis is strongly required, and excessive trailering should not be done unless absolutely necessary.
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