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Hoof Abscess Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention

A hoof abscess is one of the most common reasons for lameness in horses. Fortunately, they’re typically not too difficult to treat and your horse is likely to recover within a few weeks.

Symptoms Of Hoof Abscesses In Horses
A hoof abscess causes pressure and pain in the affected hoof so your horse will likely avoid putting their weight on that leg. Upon closer inspection, you may notice heat radiating from the hoof. You may also feel a strong pulse.

You can sometimes see the crack or hole in the hoof wall where bacteria has entered. In some cases a nail or other object may have penetrated the hoof and allowed bacteria inside.

Treating A Hoof Abscess
For mild hoof abscesses, you may be able to drain the buildup by soaking the hoof in a solution of epsom salt and warm water to help the abscess burst on its own. Your horse will feel immediate relief when it finally bursts. Then, they’ll need about 7 to 10 days to heal.

You’ll want to apply an antiseptic and bandage the hoof to keep it clean while your horse recovers. You can use T-HEXX Rhinohyde Equine Hoof Putty to fill in the hole or crack to prevent bacteria from entering.

If you’re not able to get the abscess to drain, you’ll need a veterinarian to drain it for you. Call your vet right away if there is a nail or other object stuck in the hoof.

How To Prevent Recurring Hoof Abscesses
Horses are more prone to hoof abscesses in moist weather conditions, particularly in the winter and early spring. However, dry summer heat can split the hoof and allow bacteria to enter. Abscesses can happen any time of year.

Some horses are more susceptible than others, but keeping the hoof clean, dry, and healthy will help prevent reoccurrence. Keep your horse’s stall clean and provide dry bedding during the wet season.

Strong, healthy hooves are less likely to crack and develop an abscess. A supplement like Absorbine Hooflex Concentrated Hoof Builder can help build healthier hooves. Also make sure your horse's hooves are trimmed by your farrier every 6-8 weeks, as overgrown hooves are more prone to cracking.

Recurring abscesses is a symptom of Cushing's disease or chronic laminitis. Talk to your veterinarian about ruling out underlying causes if your horse seems especially susceptible to hoof issues despite a healthy diet and clean, dry conditions.