Answers for Fall Laminitis

Your horse should be kicking up her heels in the cool, crisp autumn air, however every year some are struck by laminitis. There are several distinct groups of horses at risk and they all have EMS/high insulin in common.

A recent blog described the rise in ACTH hormone which occurs in late summer and fall and can trigger laminitis in uncontrolled PPID. Horses with EMS may also be pushed over the edge by this seasonal hormonal shift. Be vigilant for changes in crest, other fat deposits, weight and activity.

Fall laminitis has also been blamed on increased fructan levels in pasture grasses which occur when night turn cooler. However, grass fructan has never actually been proven to cause laminitis - the higher sugar levels in stressed grasses and fall re-growths are the real cause. This is only an issue for EMS horses.

EMS horses can also develop laminitis after free access to acorns. Very high intakes can cause poisoning in any horse, but EMS horses develop laminitis with no other signs of toxicity because acorns are high in starch. It happens every year.

Another risk group is pregnant mares. Pregnant mares develop insulin resistance as pregnancy advances. This combined with increasing weight and pasture changes in the fall may result in laminitis.

Management of at-risk horses should include:

  • Making sure ACTH is controlled in PPID horses

  • Feeding a suitably low sugar and starch diet

  • Limiting or avoiding pasture time when nights are below 40 F or there is obvious new green growth

  • Preventing access to acorns

It's always important to supplement correctly to support healthy hooves. The horse can be supported nutritionally by supplements that encourage the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vessel dilating messenger that is the natural counterbalance to the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1.

  • The herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Jiaogulan) is a powerful support for nitric oxide.

  • This is helped by providing the precursors for nitric oxide in the form of L-arginine and L-citrulline.

  • Antioxidants also combat oxidative stress which inhibits the activity of the enzyme that produces nitric oxide inside blood vessels [eNOS - endothelial nitric oxide synthesis].

Deficiencies can also be addressed:

  • Magnesium and phosphorus are common deficiencies and important for energy generation and storage in active cells.

  • Selenium and iodine are also common deficiencies, both critical to normal functioning of the thyroid gland.

  • Acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid are antioxidants that also support normal glucose tolerance, as well as fenugreek and chromium.

  • Zinc, copper and biotin are often suboptimal and play important roles in normal hoof wall production and hoof integrity.

Proper management and supplementation can assist the horse in maintaining good blood delivery and avoiding nutritional roadblocks to normal hoof health and metabolism.

Uckele Health & Nutrition, maker of CocoSoya®, offers supplements that provide support for Fall Laminitis.

Jiaogulan supports circulation in the feet, which nourishes the tissue. Research has also shown that Jiaogulan strongly supports activity of the eNOS enzyme system, which stands for endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase. This enzyme resides in the lining of blood vessels. It synthesizes Nitric Oxide, a simple gas that is a potent dilating agent,

LaminOx provides full spectrum support for hoof health and comfort, healthy circulation and metabolic balance. Supports healthy vascular function with Jiaogulan to promote circulation and structural hoof health. Contains the amino acid Arginine, a precursor to nitric oxide, which also plays an important role in healthy blood flow.

Glycocemic EQ provides nutrients to support blood sugar levels within normal ranges. Targeted ingredients also promote balanced immune and thyroid function, normal glucose metabolism, healthy nerve function, and proper insulin sensitivity. Promotes healthy insulin levels by providing nutrient levels that are compatible with a wide variety of diets and sources of hay.

About Dr. Kellon Dr. Eleanor Kellon, staff veterinary specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition, is an established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years, and a founding member and leader of the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group, whose mission is to improve the welfare of horses with metabolic disorders via integration of research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal.

Uckele Health & Nutrition, maker of CocoSoya, is an innovation-driven health company committed to making people and their animals healthier. On the leading edge of nutritional science and technology for over 50 years, Uckele formulates and manufactures a full spectrum of quality nutritional supplements incorporating the latest nutritional advances.

Contact: Susan Libby,