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Prevent Painful Horse Hoof Abscesses with Proper Equine Treatments & Care

If you have never had any experience with hoof abscess, it can be a frightening thing indeed. Confusing at first, your horse may exhibit signs of being lame, or may simply baby one of their feet depending on the severity of the abscess, but have no worries. Hoof abscesses are a natural part of life for a horse, and occur more often than one might think.
A great deal of the lameness or lack of acivity that horses exhibit come from hoof abscesses. They occur when objects get into the hoof; such objects are occasionally called ‘gravel.’ The foreign object can lead to an infection in the hoof that can be quite painful. Hoof abscesses can also be caused by something sharp having pierced the bottom of the hoof.

If left untreated, a hoof abscess will get worse.

Weaknesses in the sole of the hoof can occur for a variety of reasons. Hoof imbalance from trimming mistakes and other things can lead to such a condition. If it is left untreated an abscess will move up the hoof and get progressively worse.

If your horse appears to have gone lame all of a sudden, consider the possibility of a hoof abscess. You may not always be able to see the wound in the hoof, as it is possible that it may have closed before the abscess formed. To properly treat an abscess, it is important to catch it as early as possible. Draining the infection is one way of treating an abscess, but the wound should not be large enough so that another abscess can occur. For the first two days of treatment, the use of apoultice in draining may be an effective option. This way, the foot does not have to be soaked (in most cases).

Remember that you should never try to drain an abscess on the sole of the hoof. This can make matters worse, leading to other infections and possibly infections of the bone. The treating veterinarian may make a puncture at the white line or in the sub solar tissue to attempt to cure this infection.

Occasionally, antibiotics may be administered to ease some of the pain of a hoof abscess.

Remember that hoof abscesses can be prevented! This is not a problem that just occurs in some horses and not in others. Proper trimming is a great way to offset the possibility of a hoof abscess, as imbalance is one of the leading causes, as is removal of the protective horn. Sure this may be more appealing to the eye, but it does not contribute to the health of the horse’s hooves at all.

Too much wetness can lead to abscesses as well, so proper foot dressing is also an option when trying to prevent painful abscesses in the hoof.

Read the next horse shoes article on Hoof Care and Proper Feed Nutrition.
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