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Summer Sore Treatment

Recipe For Disaster

What do you get when you combine lush summer grass in Florida, a pudgy mini horse, and steroids?…laminitis.

My miniature horse Guinness had a scary bout of laminitis recently after being on the steroid Dexamethasone for a week to treat a summer sore. Guinness has always been healthy and never caused any problems. He had a large summer sore on his sheath and after taking him to get it checked out by my vet, they prescribed Dex to help him also heal internally.

Course of Therapy

About a week into his treatment, I noticed he was tender on his front feet when he got up from laying down. My heart instantly sank, thinking the worst. I led him around to make sure I wasn’t seeing things and overreacting, but my fears were right. He was very tender when turning left or right, as if he was walking on egg shells.  This is a classic symptom of laminitis. I immediately called my farrier who came and checked him. He told me Guinness was positive with the hoof tester. After speaking with my vet, they both agreed we needed to be very proactive and get the inflammation down quickly.

I took Guinness to the vet where they gave him Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) through a nasal tube. As many horse people know, the DMSO makes your horse have stinky garlicy breath for a couple days, but I’ll take it if it helped him. My farrier also told me to ice his legs. Guinness was so patient and wore tall socks with ice packs against his legs and pasterns for at least 20 minutes, twice a day. The goal was to help cool the blood as it went down into the hoof where the inflammation had started.

Summer Sore Complication

Applying ice packs to relieve inflammation


After two days, Guinness was tubed again with another round of DMSO. The vet and farrier could see marked improvements in his walking and the digital pulse that had been strong in his legs was starting to relax, indicating that the inflammation had been reduced.

We all know that mini horses are extremely easy keepers, but Guinness was always on the heavy side. It baffled me what caused this acute case of laminitis. I’ve always known that the use of Dex could cause laminitis, but I thought that was in high doses, or for extended periods of time and Guinness had neither. The vet and farrier could not confirm it was the Dex, but said that was the likely suspect.

In researching this subject, I did come across a good explanation of what I imagine happened. The use of Dex in insulin-resistant horses (aka easy keepers) can cause a spike in their blood sugar. This causes the pancreas to flood the body with insulin. Excess insulin is one cause of laminitis. I took this as an opportunity to not add insult to injury while Guinness’ body was in turmoil, and took him off  his regular grain. He was only getting a small handful of Seminole Equalizer, but I switched him to Seminole Wellness Equi-Safe which is a low starch forage-based feed.

Duchess Healing Cream

Meanwhile, topically I was applying a compounded medication I received from the vet.  Unfortunately, this prescribed medication melts off and flies are still able to land on the open summer sore.  This is where Duchess Healing Cream was able to help in the recovery of this terrible wound, located on a very delicate area. First, I would apply the prescribed medicine. Next, on top of that, I would apply Duchess Healing Cream.  This insured that the ointment from the vet would not melt off and flies were not able to land on his sore.

My strong little mini has recovered well and I’m very thankful that we were able to catch it in time. Lesson learned, be very vigilant in the medication that is given to your horse. Furthermore, closely watch for any subtle signs of changes to their bodies!

Amy and Guinness

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