Feeding the Laminitis Prone Veteran horse

Improved knowledge, veterinary care and nutrition mean that many horses and ponies are living well into their old age. With age comes specialised dietary requirements and there are many veteran feeds, including mixes and cubes, available to meet these needs. However, for certain veteran horses and ponies, especially those that maintain weight with ease or that are prone to laminitis these feeds may not be the most appropriate choice.

Laminitis in veteran horses and ponies

Laminitis in veteran horses and ponies is often due to underlying endocrine problems most frequently Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID also known as Cushing’s Disease) and/or Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). Whatever the cause, appropriate dietary management of laminitis prone horses and ponies is important. Here we provide Dengie’s top tips for feeding the laminitis prone veteran.

Top tips for feeding the laminitis prone veteran horse

  1. Feed according to weight not age – a veteran horse is not always underweight and so high calorie senior feeds are not always necessary. Regularly monitor your veteran’s bodyweight using a weightape combined with body condition scoring to see at what weight your veteran looks best and try to keep your laminitis prone veteran at a condition score 3 on the 5 point scale.
  2. Look for the Laminitis Trust Approval mark – looking for The Laminitis Trust Approval mark on feed packaging is an easy way to be sure that you are choosing a feed that is suitable for laminitis prone horses and ponies. Dengie has four products approved by The Laminitis Trust including Hi-Fi Lite, Hi-Fi Molasses Free, Healthy Hooves Molasses Free and Alfa-A Molasses Free.
  3. Keep them active – as long as your laminitis prone veteran is sound there is some evidence to suggest that exercise is beneficial for insulin sensitivity and also for weight control. Regular light activity is also beneficial for those arthritic joints.
  4. No teeth, no problem – if your veteran can no longer manage hay or haylage then combine short chop fibre feeds such as Hi-Fi Lite, Hi-Fi Molasses Free, Alfa-Beet and Laminitis Trust Approved High Fibre Cubes to form a hay replacer ration.
  5. It’s all about balance – if feeding a fibre only ration or less than recommended of a feed with added vitamins and minerals it is important to top up with a broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement in order to provide a fully balanced diet. A balance of vitamins and minerals is important especially for veterans with problems such as PPID (Cushing’s disease) as they may have compromised immunity.
  6. Feeding for weight gain – for those laminitis prone veteran horses and ponies that need to gain weight or that don’t maintain their weight with ease then choose feeds based on more digestible sources of fibre and oil such as Dengie Alfa-A Molasses Free and Alfa-Beet.