Horse Abscess Treatment | Probiotic Spray
Veteran Farrier, Steve Norman reports, “I have probably seen more abscesses in the past few months than I have probably seen in any spring in the last 10 years”.
DESCRIPTION: Moisture and mud makes for soft feet, predisposing the hoof to injury from sharp rocks or other piercing environmental objects, or separations between the live sole and the horny sole. Once a bruise, separation or penetration has occurred, bacteria can then infiltrate. If there is insufficient beneficial bacteria present to overcome the pathogenic bacteria then infection will manifest. Pus and serum are forced from inside the hard structure of the hoof, and out more often than not, through the coronet band or heel bulb. If it is a mild abscess you may not even realise until your farrier finds a rotting hole in the sole or hoof wall. Bear in mind a hoof abscess can be a warning sign of a laminitic episode, so addressing dietary intake is important. Restricting sugar and starch to no more than 10% of your horse's intake, is recommended, along with a veterinarian test to rule out insulin resistance (I.R.), aka Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) or chronic laminitis.
- Slight or intermittent lameness, that progresses to no weight-bearing on the affected leg
- More weight carried on the toe to protect the heel
- ‘Hotness’ in the affected hoof
- Noticeable increase in the digital pulse on checking the fetlock, strongest on the side of the abscess
- Leg, heel bulb or hoof may swell
- Severe pain and distress
- If the abscess is not drained it may become purulent when it bursts through the coronary band. If the horse has been ‘quicked’ or has a ‘hot nail’ in the laminar corium, or a nail in the sole-wall junction, it is recommended a veterinarian be advised and antibiotics will likely be recommended.
- It is the enzymes from the bacteria that destroys the surrounding tissue at the localised site that then creates a grey/black pus generally associated with hoof abscesses.
Caught early, re-establishment of beneficial bacteria, to overcome the pathogenic bacteria. If the abscess has progressed to fill or swell the leg, a farrier or vet must drain the leg as soon as possible. Once drained, re-establishing the beneficial bacteria is advantageous. Veterinary advisor Karen Coumbe reports, “It’s usually unneccessary to treat pus in the foot with antibiotics, as its better to drain the abscess to eliminate infection, particularly since antibiotics do not penetrate properly into the hoof and horn of the horse’s foot.There is now a move away from ‘soaking the foot’ and instead localising treatment to just the ‘affected area, with soak bandages or poultices’. This practice ensures that the whole hoof doesn’t become too soft, weakening the integrity of the hoof structure and giving rise to other conditions down the track. Re-establishing the beneficial microbes at the earliest sign of any issues may well save costly vet bills.