Do a search on Google or YouTube for Hoof Abscesses and you will get more advice and opinions than there are horses! You will find a million products that claim to be “the best” at drawing out abscesses, preventing them, curing them. You will get bad advice, mediocre advice, and good advice.
I am dealing with reoccurring abscesses with my horse who is recovered from pretty severe laminitis. The stretch and damage to the soft tissue (laminae) can cause pockets that are ripe for infection. Hence, horse with a history of laminitis are prone to abscesses.
Here’s a good list of some important facts I have learned that I would like to share. Most of these have to do with micro, chronic or deep solar abscesses. Sole abscesses are usually resolved quickly and easily. But, please read anyway, these tips can apply to you.
- Laminitic horses often get abscesses as the laminitis heals because the damaged tissue leaves holes that are ripe for infection.
- Other sources of abscess: stone bruises and foreign material entering a hole in the hoof. (usually in the white line area)
- Two things cause EXTREME pain to the point of total lameness; Broken bones and abscesses.
- Often a horse with deep pressure from an abscess will lie down and stay off his feet. Self preservation. Others will put NO pressure on the infected hoof.
- Let your horse alone to stand and heal (in a clean stall). No forced work. Keep the hoof CLEAN, always!
- Moisture is your friend in the case of a deep abscess your vet cannot dig out. Use Animalintex Poultice pads, add hot water and Epson salts, place over entire hoof and wrap securely with a boot or water proof bandaging. Change every 12 hours.
- ALWAYS keep the hoof as clean as a hospital room while dealing with abscesses. Clean with Iodine. Do NOT leave the hoof unwrapped or exposed to water, air or anything unsanitary.
- Soaking your horse’s hoof in a bucket with warm water and Epsom salts twice a day for 30 minutes is the “old fashioned” way of doing things and can leave your horse in excruciating pain longer than necessary (for hidden and deep abscesses).
- Don’t be afraid to use Epsom salt poultice (a green gel you can lather on the Coronary Band), a poultice pad AND Epsom salts with hot water in that. The more aggressive your treatment, the quicker the abscess can be drawn to the surface and hopefully resolve itself.
- Do NOT try to “dig out” an abscess on your own. If deep enough, it is “surgery.” Get a qualified veterinarian to do this. Not even your farrier can deal with infection in the way your vet can.
- Abscesses come on quickly and, once popped, leave just as fast. Abscesses are a common cause of severe lameness.
- The only other ailment as painful as a deep abscess is a broken bone!
- Soft Ride boots are essential to laminitic horses! They might not prevent abscesses, but they keep the opposite foot comfortable if you are waiting for a deep abscess to blow.
- Products good to aid in drawing abscesses (in no particular order); Ichthamol, Epsom salt poultice paste (gel), Animalintex Poultice pads, Epsom Salts with hot water, Clay Poultice (Ice Tight), any Drawing Salve.
- Aztec Clay (available in health food stores) works well too. The whole hoof (particularly the sole, frog, heel bulbs and coronet) can be covered in a thick layer of clay, vet wrapped and bandaged with duct tape to help to draw out infection.
- Antiphlogistine by Absorbine. Good for deep abscesses. [Antiphlogistine is clay with methyl salicylate, menthol, eucalyptol.]
- Surgically cut abscess vents are an excellent way to get lots of bacteria into your horses foot, so protect the abscessing foot carefully to avoid making it worse. Use sterile bandages and work with throw cloths or mats to protect the hoof from further contamination.
So, remember, chances are if your horse goes suddenly 3-legged lame, and there’s no chance of a bone fracture or chip, then there may be an abscess brewing. Please consult your veterinarian. Do NOT try to handle it on your own.