Norma, my donkey, has laminitis – AGAIN. I’m so upset.

Monday, April 16th, 2012 | Filed under Medical


Spring is here and evidently, there is too much grass in Norma’s small paddock.

Norma presented with laminitis when I went out to feed this morning.  Aargh.   We went through this two years ago.  (Here is that story.)  Norma was in the barn for two months as we battled founder in both of her front feet.  The vet and specialists tried everything we could think of to help her – we used experimental injections, oral medications, salves, abscess drawing agents, pads… you name it.  I was just sick about it all.

The only thing that finally helped was Anti-Flam that a concerned reader suggested I purchase.

I hope the Anti-Flam helps this time.  I’m like a frightened trauma survivor who is now instantly terrified.  I’m overly upset right now because her ordeal was so traumatic last time.

So, I thought I’d share this ‘as it happens’ with you.


A very unhappy donkey in the barn this morning - holding up her left foot.



Norma is my 19 year-old jenny who I rescued when she was 2.

She’s sweet, quiet, very mannered, puts the ponies in their place, guards the ranch and adds decorum and justice to the herd.  Not only that, she has her own FB page.

I love all of my animals and I have a very soft spot for Norma.

This was Norma at Christmastime...



Norma is overweight.  Sadly, she is like a ChiaDonkey.  She needs little food to make her grow.

Because she is overweight, I have her in the smallest paddock with three other horses who eat everything available – or so I thought.

Clearly, there was enough new grass and she ate too much of it.

As many of you have seen, Norma wears a grazing muzzle when she is outside of her paddock.

If I could get the weight off, she’d be better able to handle sugar spikes.  My only excuse is that I’m too busy to exercise her and she’s not going to do it herself.

Here she is, wearing her grazing muzzle.


Last time, I had her in the barn and we watched her like a hawk.  She had Banamine and every other kind of laminitis/founder treatment available to no results.  Her case was very severe.  She was down more than she was up.  What finally seemed to work was a recommendation I received from a reader.  She told me to get Anti-Flam from Omega Alpha.  She said it is made of all natural ingredients so it wouldn’t upset her stomach – and she said it worked better than medicine.

So, I bought it and had it rushed here.

Norma ate it happily (although she didn’t want it this morning so I had to push it into her orally) and her horrible lameness subsided!  We were all amazed.  She could walk and spent most of her time upright instead of down. No one could believe it.

Then, a few days later, she blew several abscesses.

I’m not sure if the Anti-Flam helped with the abscesses, but it did help her with the inflammation and pain of it all…  And, she could walk after ingesting it.  I continued to give her Anti-flam for about a month afterwards and she recovered.  It has been 2 years… until this morning.

Today, I gave her a double dose, orally.  I also have it in her food bowl which she would not touch while I was looking.  I did see her eat out of it when she thought I was gone.  I’ve also contacted Omega Alpha and have asked to order a large supply of the Anti-Flam so I can get her through this.  Sigh.

The empty syringe of Anti-Flam. She faught me like a trooper.



I emailed Omega Alpha today which is a SUNDAY and they responded immediately!  You gotta love that!  ( I encourage any of you to use this email to ask specific questions regarding remedies for your horses… they are very knowledgeable and helpful: )  Here is what they told me to do in addition to the Anti-Flam:

Get her some lesser quality hay so she can forage and have gut fill.
I would double the AntiFlam and if you have to give a bit of bute it isn’t the end of the world we just want to get her under control the inflammation down and the feet cool. Then she can get back to her maintenance dose of AntiFlam. Just make sure she has had food or some Gastra-fx to buffer the bute on the stomach.
Does she have any metabolic issues? Adren-FX is our Cushing’s product and is often used with AntiFlam. Adren-FX is used to help control sugar imbalances and hormone imbalances.”

Luckily, I have all of those products so I’m figuring out how to get her to ingest it all when she is this unhappy…

A concerned Rojo watches Norma in her stall...


I’m not that religious but I am looking up to the heavens and asking Aladdin to look after his best friend.  (Norma and Aladdin were very tight.)  I feel like I’ve let her down by not putting her in the grazing muzzle inside of her paddock when the grass started to come in.

I love this donk and will do everything I can to bring her through this.

Norma loves her ponies...and they love her. I need to get her well.


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April's Bucket Fund is in honor of Champ who passed - this is for all of his friends at SF SPCA. click image of Jim to read and donate!



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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

15 comments have been posted...

  1. Lynn

    I have a 15 yr old donkey we rescued about 11 years ago. She had never shown signs of laminitis until last week. I called my farrier since I had not dealt with this before. She trimmed her hooves and didn’t see any swelling or visual signs but she is over weight for sure. So when she walked very slowly in pasture with head down most of day but really not laying down alot. Farrier said probably caught it in time before it got bad. She suggested dig up my grass in part or small part of pasture and fence off. My granddaughters riding trainer suggested a grazing mussel. I don’t know what to do but my late husband and i had horses at time time and tried so hard to grow this lush grass so I hate to dig up or kill it. Wonder if anyone has tried a grazing mussel and ups and down sides of it. And also wondering if I could build a round pen with the grass in it and let her graze without mussel and then put her back up. What to do??? Help!!

  2. diana

    go to it works wonders, read the articles as well. I had a rescue that I didnt know the history of. He came down with laminitis last summer (on a dry calif pasture-but vet said he probably had it previous to me rescuing him) We tried this formula and he recovered quickly. My other 2 rescues ahve been fat since I got them 4 years ago despite lowering their hay intake. Dr. thomas recommended this formula for them as well. One has is down to his prefect weight and the other has lost almost all he needs .

  3. April

    Soft Ride boots have helped my pony immensely. And my conscience…

    Easy to put on and no maintenance required.

  4. Miss Jan

    A big shout out of agreement to Jannalee who posted – agreed that the Willamette Valley is hands down (hooves down) THE worst place for the laminitic or pre-laminitic horse to live. The grass doesn’t even stop growing in the winter, the soil is too darn rich. Dry lot that is made like Jaime Jackson’s “Paddock Paradise” is a really good solution. I am also looking into Teff hay which isn’t grown in the Willamette Valley but in Southern Oregon (Medford/K-falls and in Christmas Valley) and I understand from Oregon state University extension people is really temperamental hay to grow and harvest BUT it is naturally low NSC. Dawn you could put Norma on a low NSC hay pellet because if you are feeding a good quality orchard grass it is far too high in non-structural carbs to be good for her. standlee Hay (out of Idaho) makes a weed-free orchard grass pellet that they say is about 8-9% NSC which is about down where you want it.

    It IS difficult to fit donkeys and mini-donks (and mini horses) with hoofboots with orthotic shims and you would need a really good measurement and the help of a really good farrier to gauge what to do about orthotic inserts (shims) as far as size. So my farrier’s solution rather than messing with that is to use Magic Cushion. You can get it in single application packs and multiple packs. She buys from Valley Farrier Supply in Beavercreek Oregon. I think there are California outlets which have it too likely not feed or tack stores mostly it’s farrier supply houses. Google “Magic Cushion” hoof packing and read the website. You could even “build” protective boots for Norma out of tape – some people like duct tape but me I prefer to use Gorilla Tape because it doesn’t wear out anywheres near as fast as duct tape does. You just apply the Magic Cushion, cover with vetwrap type wrap and then booties of tape over that. GOOD LUCK please feel free to e-mail me if I can help more, since moving to the Willamette Valley I’ve had more experience with hoof problems than in previous entire lifetime with horses in other areas.

  5. Rox

    good info at (Dr Kellon & friends) also look at the grazing protocols on Katy Watts’ website

    I have elderly large mini with chronic low-grade laminitis (that is, no sinking or rotating just spring and fall flares of inflammation and discomfort) and I have had really good luck with feeding vitex berry powder or alternatively a liquid formula (expensive imported) which is a vitex tincture from Emerald Botanicals, you might find a local dealer in your area. I also feed a high-magnesium supplement called Remission (by AniMed) affordable and available at most feed stores that carry the AniMed line of equine supplements. A really REALLY good (e.g., expensive with at least several million live cultures) probiotic seems to make all the other stuff work better. I do not believe any of these conflict with the AntiFlam.

    I used AntiFlam last year on another mini I was caring for but found no noticeable improvement after three months so put that mini on vitex berry powder and Remission and probiotic like the other mini. Grazing only early in the morning (5 a.m. to whenever the ambient air temp hits 50 degrees and the sugar in the grass gets too much, usually in these parts around 10 or 11 in the spring). If a flare however NO GRASS AT ALL and soak and drain hay (soak 1 hour or more and drain well before feeding).

    There is a really popular feed line that is widely advertised as being low starch. It isn’t and it is not safe to feed the equine or equid that is already laminitic. Heavily promoted but truly – don’t use it, it is not safe for the borderline or fully laminitic horse or donkey.

  6. Angie

    I’ve got 3 at home with laminitis issues. One flared up in the last few days. It’s always tough this time of year, and who knows what sets off an episode sometimes. In my bag of tricks for Buster I have Equiox (he can’t take Bute because it hurts his tummy, but Equiox or Prevacox is OK), DMSO (IV and topical), Isoxsuprine, Traumeel (all natural anti-inflammatory), Banamine and an incredible farrier. I also alternate between ice baths and cold mud to cool the feet and then a thick bed of shavings to dry him out. It seems like if the feet get too wet, they get too soft and the sole can’t support him. He’s got a lot of rotation to deal with already….don’t need them sinking any more. Since Buster is beyond being helped by shoes/pad/hoof filler, he’s barefoot and trimmed up at a pretty steep angle. During the summer, when the ground is hard as a rock, I caught him standing with his front feet in a feed pan. It’s like having rubber pads. So now, I leave a dozen old feed pans in his paddock and keep his run in thick with shavings so he can seek out relief from the hard ground when he wants it. So far, he’s having way more good days than bad and we’ve kept him going years longer than I thought possible. I think I am going to call and order some of that Anti-Flam….sounds like a good thing to try. Thanks for the tip.

    Good luck with Norma. Hopefully this is just a short flare up and the inflammation will again be under control in a few days and she’ll be good as new. Laminitis is a terrible terrible thing.

  7. Jannalee

    Hi Dawn,

    So sorry your poor Norma has laminitis again. I’m wondering if you’ve heard of Eleanor Kellon’s group on insulin resistance and PPID (Cushing’s)? They have an excellent website here:, with everything you need to help get control of Norma’s laminitis. You can also take Dr. Kellon’s classes here:, to get on the “emergency diet”.

    You don’t need lesser quality hay: you need highly nutritious hay that is low in starch and sugar. You can have your hay tested at Equi-Analytical for $49 to see what minerals are missing. Someone from the main EC/IR list can help to balance your hay. You can make up your own minerals, or have HorseTech mix them for you. To save you the step of grinding your own flax, Rod can put your minerals in a 2 oz. flax base. One less thing to do.

    Years ago, when I first found Dr. Kellon, I was watching my very sturdy, never-a-false-step Arab/Saddlebred looking very chubby and “cresty”. I didn’t know what that meant then, but I immediately had her insulin and glucose tested (through Cornell), according to Dr. Kellon’s protocol. Started exercising her five days a week, and soaked hay for a long time (removes 30% of the sugars). She lost weight beautifully, BUT it wasn’t until I balanced her hay that her insulin went from 30 to 12, in one month. Now, she can tolerate a bit of grass–if I keep her exercised and keep on top of what her insulin looks like. Not all fat horses are IR; the last number I saw was that roughly 30% of horses are IR, out of the general population. Ponies and Arabians vie for top billing, but donks, Morgans and some of the Icelandic breeds are right behind them.

    Exercise is the best insulin buster there is (for humans, too), even just walking 30 minutes, five times a week. That and a balanced diet (with 2 oz. of flax, 2,000 IUs of natural vitamin E, and minerals to balance your hay) should turn her right around. She’ll most likely abcess; it’s nature’s way of clearing out the damage from the laminitis. Hard to watch, but there it is. It’s a terrible time of year for our IR horses, ponies, and donkeys, especially those of the air fern quality!

    Best of luck to you and Norma,

    Jannalee in Oregon, where the grasses are waaaay too lush

  8. Sandra

    Can you use what I believe they call “equi-pax” on your donkey. Our boarding paso fino mare, Maraca, had a serious bought with laminitis this winter, to where she could barely, and I mean barely walk…She is now wearing a different shoe filled with the hot equi pax liquid that turns solid. this is reforming the alignment of her front hooves to relieve the pressure off the coffin bone. What a difference!!! This horse was in such pain, she was sweating and her whole body was quivering. Of course she was on a lot of bute to relieve the inflamation. And now her diet is very restricted. We use the slow feeder hay bags so she doesn’t eat so fast…The bags with the 11/2″ holes allow her and another horse to eat much slower allowing their food to digest as it should. She is doing fabulous and looks great. Our mistake or what I think was our mistake….We were feeding a blend of peanut hay and bermuda….we didn’t think there was much peanut hay in the blended bale, but apparently there was. Peanut hay is very much the same sugar/protein’s as alfalfa….It’s a very good hay, but she shouldn’t have been getting it at all. We were also feeding her horse treats. Just some thoughts for you to ponder. I feel for you…we’ve just gone through this and it was a terrible time…Good luck…..Healing thoughts and prayers are coming to Norma from Her Florida Horse Friends…Maraca in particular wants to wish Norma well…

  9. Jane

    I don’t know anything about donkeys -just horses. Does your donkey wear shoes? Have you heard of the Nolan hoof plates for laminitis? I think there are other brands of plates of plates available as well. Some of my friends’ horse have been helped by the Nolan plates, but I understand they are fairly expensive…Something to keep in mind if your regular treatments don’t work, and assuming of course that donkeys can be shod and their hooves are enough like horses to wear these plates.

  10. nancy

    Oh Dawn, what a worry. But I am thinking it will be better. You caught it early, have given her the best care, are forcing meds, she’s not down. Take heart! Norma is tough!

  11. Kelly

    Have you heard of gallium nitrate? Google it if you haven’t. I have a friend in rescue who heard about it and tried in on her navicular horse. He is now totally sound!

    Will keep you and Norma in my prayers.


  12. Kitty Bo

    I went through the laminitis nightmare and ptsd w/ my heart horse. So sorry for all this. The grazing muzzle was a must for sure. Add my prayers for Norma.

  13. Deborah Carlino

    Norma will be in my thoughts! That damn laminitis, it’s struck the best of them!

  14. peg

    I’m so sorry this happened again.. Norma seems to need to be in the hot dry desert.
    I know you’ll do what’sbest for her.

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