Dealing With Hoof Abscesses


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Have you ever walked into the stable to find your horse suddenly lame, holding one hoof off of the ground? Your horse may have a hoof abscess. When weak hooves are combined with muddy pastures, abscesses can affect your horse’s health. With proper hoof care you can help to heal the abscess and get your horse back to feeling well again.

What Is A Hoof Abscess?

A hoof abscess is a bacterial infection that occurs in your horse’s hoof. Abscesses can occur when a hoof sole or wall becomes compromised. Deep sole bruises can sometimes become abscesses, but standing in mud can also soften a hoof and is a frequent cause of abscesses. Sometimes hoof abscesses occur for no apparent reason at all.

A hoof abscess is extremely painful for a horse. A horse with a hoof abscess can suddenly appear to be seriously lame, and depending on the location and severity of the abscess, a horse may be reluctant to put any weight on his hoof at all. If you are not positive that the cause of your horse’s lameness is an abscess, then you should always call your veterinarian to come out and diagnose your horse.

Treating a Hoof Abscess

Once your horse is diagnosed with a hoof abscess you can begin treating him. If your veterinarian examines your horse, he may decide to cut open the abscess to let it drain. Some abscesses are buried too deeply within the hoof to cut open, so in these cases you must gradually draw the abscess out. To draw an abscess out, soak your horse’s hoof in warm water and Epsom salts twice a day. When not soaking the hoof, wrap it with a padded bandage. You can pack the hoof with a drawing salve, such as Icthammol or Betadine mixed with sugar, before you wrap it; the salve will help to bring the abscess to the surface where it can open on its own.

Once the abscess has opened, it will relieve the pressure on the inside of your horse’s hoof and he will be more comfortable. It is important to keep an opened abscess clean and protected to prevent reinfection while the abscess heals. Clean the site with water and Betadine twice a day, and keep the hoof fully wrapped until the abscess site heals over.

Hoof Care to Prevent Hoof Abscesses

Keeping your horse’s hooves properly trimmed and protected can help to prevent abscesses. Make sure that your horse receives regular care from a professional farrier. Take measures not to ride your horse over areas of rough footing, such as sharp gravel, without protecting his hooves with shoes or hoof boots.

If your horse must be turned out in muddy pastures, be sure that his hooves are given a chance to dry out on a daily basis. Clean his hooves regularly and keep an eye out for signs of abscesses or thrush.

With proper hoof care, you can help to speed along your horse’s recovery from hoof abscesses, bringing him back to his full health. TOPHORSE–browse horses for sale or place an ad to sell horses

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