Hoof abscesses are a very common problem in horse health and can sometimes suddenly lead to serious lameness. However, with proper treatment methods, they are usually quickly but it often can be resolved quickly with the proper treatment approach.
As a horse owner, you may find that one day your horse seems completely fine, but the next day he is unable to put one of his feet down on the ground. Yet you are unable to detect any clear signs of a problem or foot injury. Worried? Fear not, there is a high chance it is simply a case of a hoof abscess.
Hoof abscesses are caused by the accumulation of pus in a horse’s hoof. What’s great is that once observed in time, these abscesses can be treated with proper care from a vet doctor and leave no permanent damage to the hoof. They can also be completely prevented from affecting your horse health by routine health checks, proper care, and management.
So what can you do to prevent your horse from getting these abscesses and how you do treat them when it happens? Here’s a look at some causes, prevention and treatment methods.
Causes of Horse Abscesses
Abscesses typically begin when bacteria enter into the hoof wall, and this can be from any weakening of the wall structure that allows bacteria to occupy the area.
A few common causes include fluctuating environmental conditions, sharp objects penetrating wounds, bruising from rocky grounds or mud, bad hoof balance and poor management of horse facilities.
Prevention of Abscesses
Good hoof care includes cleaning the horse’s hoof frequently to remove rocks that may be stuck and address any issues with balance.
Protect your horse with shoes if they have thin soles and bruise often. Trim feet, stay ahead of any irregularities that could be a symptom or sign of illness and affect horse health. Get your horse looked at by a vet that’s familiar with horses if or when they start to show any lameness.
How to Detect Abscesses
Signs could vary depending on how far the infection has progressed. Some of the clinical signs to look out for include heat, higher digital pulses, discharge from tracts, and other evidence of hoof injuries.
Before lameness could kick in, the sign of bone/muscle deterioration could be observed through a radiograph. Trimming the soles of the horse’s feet often could also help find abscesses quicker.
Treatment of Abscesses
The basic treatment for horse abscesses is similar to pimples, where you open them up and drain out the pus. Sometimes, they also pop on their own after traveling up to a thinner wall that breaks easily.
Proper treatment involves foot cleaning and location of the entry wound (if any); begin the draining process by soaking the foot to soften for easy rupture. You could also choose to keep the foot protected and nicely wrapped to prevent further infection. If needed, administer antibiotics to your horse and use anti-inflammatory medicine.
Once all of the pus is drained, you should notice the hoof and mobility slowly improve. If symptoms persist, other procedures can be used to diagnose the extent of the damage then treat.
Image credit: Thenaturallyhealthyhorse.com
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