The tissue damage that is caused by laminitis can lead to founder in horses if it is not treated effectively and immediately. Founder can cause permanent and irreparable injury to a horse if it is allowed to go unchecked. In severe cases it may be necessary for a horse with this condition to be euthanized due to the extreme pain and stress that this condition can cause to the animal. Any owner that suspects that his horse may be suffering from founder or laminitis must get attention from a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible. This condition will not get better on its own and can only be improved with treatment.
A case of laminitis that is allowed to progress will eventually lead to founder. Laminitis can be caused by a horse eating too much grain or springtime grass. An overheated animal that drinks large quantities of cold water or a horse that is not exercised often enough for that is overweight can also get this condition. Spending a majority of its time being transported or working on a hard surface can also cause laminitis. While it can affect all four of the animals feed, laminitis generally affects only the front feet.
Laminitis affects the laminae, which is the tissue that connects the hoof wall to the coffin bone. If these are separated, they can cause extreme pain to the tissues underneath the hoof wall. Founder occurs when the coffin bone becomes unattached to the hoof after the laminae tissue dies. In severe cases the coffin bone will rotate and can actually come through the sole of the hoof. Laminitis is extremely painful for horses and founder is even more so. A horse with either of these conditions may spend a great deal of its time lying down because of the pain associated with walking or standing.
Founder in horses can be treated by a variety of methods depending on the severity of the condition. The earlier that founder or laminitis is detected, the greater the chance that the horse will recover quickly and with a minimal amount of pain. It may be necessary for a horse to undergo surgery in some cases which will lead to a long and painful recovery. Painkillers and antibiotics may also be a necessary part of the recovery. Corrective shoes can also play a vital role in easing the pain associated with these conditions as well as improving the horse's chance for recovery.