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Preventing Diet-Induced Laminitis

In this article equine nutritionist Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD., discusses the relationship between diet and the development of laminitis.

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By: Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD. |

There are two instances in which diet can play a role in the development of laminitis. The first is commonly known as ‘grain overload,’ where a horse or pony escapes from its stall, breaks into the feed room and eats far more grain than it should (anything more than 3 kg in one feeding can be risky). In this situation, excessive starches and sugars in the grains are insufficiently digested in the small intestine (where normal amounts of starch and sugar would be broken down to glucose and absorbed), and reach the large intestine. Here, the microbial population is suddenly overloaded with a novel substrate for them to ferment. They produce excessive gasses and acids (which can contribute to colic), altering the ecosystem and killing off microbes (in turn releasing harmful toxins), and resulting in the production of compounds called vasoactive amines. The absorption of these vasoactive amines and toxins…

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