Dealing With Hoof Abscess In Horses

Hoof abscess in horses is one of those situations a horse owner is apt to come across on occasion. It's a situation that, while not necessarily serious in itself, can cause great pain to the horse, and if left untreated, can sometimes lead to complications and more serious issues.

Quite often, hoof abscess in horses can be treated by the owner of the horse if the owner is familiar with some basic equine first aid principles. In some cases however, especially if the horse owner is uncertain or at a loss of what to do, a veterinarian should be called in. Taking the horse to the veterinarian may not be practical, as if the pain is great enough, the horse might not be willing to walk to a trailer.

Formation Of An Abscess - An abscess is a collection of pus that forms as the body, horse or human, fights an infection. The pus collects in one place simply because it has no place to go. If soft tissue in the horse’s foot, inside the hoof, becomes infected, the hoof itself may prevent pus from being discharged or carried away. As the pus accumulates, it puts pressure on surrounding tissue and nerves, causing pain. When there is a pocket of pus inside the hoof, if the horse attempts to walk, or even stand on the affected foot and leg, the pressure becomes even greater, as does the pain. Image if you had an abscess the size of a golf ball under the sole of your foot, how painful it would be to walk, or do much of anything for that matter.

Sometimes the pressure will become sufficient to allow the pus to escape through either a crack in the hoof or at the coronet, the band of tissue surrounding the top of the hoof. This may provide some relief, and if the infection has been halted, the horse may recover on its own. Generally, it's best to treat the situation as if the infection is still present. If the situation does not clear up, or returns, the horse could go lame. Chronic lameness is a very serious condition for any horse, as a horse needs to be able to distribute its weight equally on all four legs much of the time if it is to remain in good health.

Soaking The Hoof - There are several ways to treat hoof abscess in horses, one of them being to clean and then soak the hoof repeatedly in an Epsom salt solution. Obviously you will need a bucket, and the horse will need to be tethered so as not to move around. Soaking the hoof is generally a soothing feeling for the horse, who is likely to cooperate.

Drill, Treat, And Wrap - If the situation requires veterinary help, the hoof may be drilled to allow the pus to escape. The hoof will then be soaked briefly, treated with an antibiotic, and placed in a boot. If a boot is not available, bandages coupled with a generous wrapping of duct tape will protect the hoof from dirt and infection until the hoof has healed, which may take up to a week.

Not Always A Serious Situation - There are instances when an abscess is a temporary situation. The horse may be favoring a foot, or even limping a bit, but still moves around. Some swelling above the coronet may be noticeable. If the situation lasts for more than a day, or if it appears to rapidly be worsening, treatment should begin as soon as possible. It can happen, that the swelling will go down, and the horse will no longer appear to have a problem. The hoof should still be examined for several days for signs of injury or drainage, and the general condition of the horse should be closely monitored until it is obvious all is well.


 

 

 


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