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Lameness After Hoof Abscess

Lameness After Hoof Abscess

Ava Flores
• Friday, 05 March, 2021
• 9 min read

Since the hoof can’t expand, the pressure and infection cause severe pain. Then they apply hoof testers, a large set of pincers that resemble a medieval torture device.

hoof wrap abscesses treating covered equine vet lastly
(Source: rockingeboarding.com)


Horses with an abscess should have a single painful spot, while those that are sore all over the hoof may have diffuse disease such as laminates or a coffin bone fracture. If the horse stops limping once the freezing takes effect, it confirms that the problem originates in the hoof.

If there is any doubt, it is important to rule out other causes of severe lameness with hoof X-rays. The bottom of the hoof is carefully pared away until fluid and pus drain out.

Your vet may administer a tetanus booster vaccine if one hasn’t been given recently. If the infection is cleared up, a shoe and pad will protect the hole until it can grow out completely or your farrier may fill the defect with synthetic hoof putty.

Horses and ponies with previous bouts of laminates/founder are prone to developing abscesses. They can also result from foreign objects like nails and wire piercing the hoof and introducing bacteria.

It is also a good idea to clean hoofs frequently and examine them for foreign objects and other signs of disease. Dr. Jamie Rothenberger is a veterinarian who practices pathology and a PhD student at the Ontario Veterinary College.

hoof cattle dairy leg lameness issues part abscess sole ulcer
(Source: www.slideshare.net)

Extension is expanding its online education and resources to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. Draining, bandaging and keeping the hoof clean are key to treating an abscess.

Routine hoof care and keeping your horse’s area clean can prevent abscesses. Nails, screws and glass may damage the hoof and leave behind bacteria.

Horseshoe nails inside the white line (where the hoof wall meets the sole) may allow bacteria to enter. Due to the level of pain, it’s inhumane to wait for the abscess to rupture on its own.

They will use hoof testers to pinch parts of the foot and find the source of pain. They may find a crack or drain track after cleaning the hoof and removing the old sole.

If your veterinarian can’t find a drain track, they may take radiographs to look for gas (produced by bacteria) within the hoof. Once they find the abscess area, they can use a paring knife to cut a hole just large enough to drain the pus.

abscess hoof wrap dot vet update horse hoping still tiny could
(Source: susanfriedlandsmith.com)

Some horses will need analgesics (pain relievers) or local nerve blocks. Normally, the horse has sudden pain relief once the infection drains.

Your veterinarian will apply an antiseptic bandage to keep the abscess draining for 48 hours. This covering must stay clean to prevent lengthening the infection or dirtying the drain hole.

Keep your horse in a clean, dry area, such as a well-bedded stall or small paddock. Keep the hoof bandage on until the draining stops, the hole is dry and the lameness is gone.

Multiple, daily warm water and Epsom salt soaks may do more harm than good. They may prescribe but (phenylbutazone), firocoxib, or ban amine to control pain or swelling.

Deep infections can take several weeks to heal and may lead to laminates if not taken care of. The horse shifts its weight often, rests its good leg, or lies down more than normal.

hoof abscesses treat abcess
(Source: www.americanfarriers.com)

Remove any nails, tools, metal pieces, and glass from your horse’s area to lower the risk of injury. About two months ago my 17-year-old ALPHA mare became suddenly lame in her RF foot/leg.

She was very sore all of a sudden, held her foot pointed and only walked very slowly. Couple days later she was less sore, but still gimpy and only a little heat lingered around coronet band/heel.

Then she got a little worse again, visible limping on concrete and still gimpy at the trot, so I had the farrier check her out again and made sure I could be there. He pinpointed the exact spot with hoof testers and this spot is where I thought something looked “off”, kinda hard to explain and right on the edge of the sole by her inside bar.

So I felt reassured that it doesn't seem to be anything more serious, and started soaking, poulticing with Animalistic pads, and wrapping it. It looks like it popped from the spot on her sole and heel bulb on the same side.

After it stopped draining I packed it with sugar dine and wrapped for a few days, it's hardened up considerably compared to the mushiness from poulticing, and the holes appear to be pretty much closed and healing. She's been basically on stall rest this entire time except some hand walking and turnout in indoor arena here and there.

abscess hoof equine supplement damage grow taken his
(Source: equineink.com)

Oh, and the farrier recommended painting some Tuff Stuff onto the spot then check her at walk and trot again to see if it had any effect, so I'm considering trying that or Durable. When the vet opened a spot on the sole near the heel what squirted out was not black but whitish green, like pus, which it is.

A foot abscess, also known as pus-in-the-foot is an extremely common condition, and one that can cause lameness ranging from moderate to non-weightbearing. Fortunately, despite its dramatic appearance, foot abscess is usually a simple and satisfying condition to treat.

There is also significant inflammation within the foot, which can be noticed as a bounding digital pulse, and a degree of heat in the hoof wall. Lameness will also develop at this point, which will often be so severe that the horse is unwilling to place their foot on the ground.

These are large pincer like tools with blunt ends, that put pressure through the hoof wall and sole. Horses that are shod may have to have their shoe removed at this point to allow examination of the entire solar surface of the foot.

When the surface of the abscess is pricked, there is usually a sudden and copious burst of foul smelling fluid. Extensive paring can be necessary, and may be performed 24 hours after drainage is created, when the horse will be a lot more comfortable.

cattle hoof dairy leg lameness issues part sole ulcer laminitis arthritis septic corium
(Source: www.slideshare.net)

This is achieved using poultice material (Animalistic), soaked in hot water, and then bandaged to the foot. Occasionally, it can be extremely difficult to locate an abscess despite a strong response to hoof testers, and adequate paring of the foot.

Foot Abscess Solar Bruising Laminates Nail Bind Pedal Bone Fracture Firstly, the routinely available antibiotics available for use in horses do not reach the hoof in significant concentrations to be useful, and are not active against the bacteria that are commonly involved in foot abscesses.

In the initial stage of the disease, before the abscess has burst then even high doses of analgesics typically prove ineffective in relieving pain. The prognosis for simple foot abscesses is excellent, and following drainage horses will return to soundness rapidly and totally.

On some occasions, abscesses can re-occur if drainage seals over, and require further paring of the foot, but provided this occurs then no long term complications should be seen. Some foot abscesses can be caused by the presence of a hoof “tumor” or abnormality of growth known as a hematoma.

So researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) set out to put more hard data behind these common hoof ailments. They wanted to identify trends that could help horse owners and their veterinarians better manage abscesses and more accurately anticipate how they’ll heal and if they’re likely to develop complications.

ray foot radiography horse hoof equine radiographs feet lameness problems side diagnostic horsesidevetguide
(Source: horsesidevetguide.com)

ACM, a lecturer in the Penn Vet Department of Pathology, in Philadelphia, worked with colleagues to collect information about 160 hoof abscess cases in Southeastern Pennsylvania horses treated by the university’s large animal hospital field veterinarians. Sub solar abscesses occurred mostly in the front limbs; They were slightly more common between June and November compared to the rest of the year; Abscesses along the coronary band required longer veterinary treatment than those occurring elsewhere; Treatment of abscesses that occurred during summer lasted 10 times longer than those diagnosed in winter (dry weather could affect healing, but more research is needed to better understand this phenomenon, Cole said); Horses with abscesses in multiple locations within the same hoof were more likely to have secondary complications; If the veterinarian found the abscess draining tract when he or she first saw the patient, healing time improved by 27%; Male horses were more likely to get hoof abscesses than females; Male horses took significantly longer to heal than did females (further research would be required to understand this, as well, Cole said); and More severe lameness was associated with a shorter healing time (possibly because the severe lameness suggested the abscess was about to burst and resolve).

For example, if owners have a question about the likelihood of complications, this study may provide the clinician with a blueprint for some evidence-based answers.” The fact that so little research exists on such a common clinical issue in horses is surprising, but also somewhat understandable, Cole added.

Upon presentation, the mare had mild swelling of the left front coronary band, but no draining tract was observed. Palpation of her limbs revealed mildly increased digital pulses on her left front, but no sensitivity to hoof testers.

Radiographic evaluation of the left front foot revealed an ovoid, partially mineralized soft tissue opacity at the dorsoproximal aspect of the third phalanx. Based on the clinical history and concurrent radiographic findings, a spherical hematoma underlying the dorsoproximal hoof wall was suspected.

After removal of the hoof cast, the bone cement plaque is checked for stability and any amount of drainage. If there are no signs of complications, an acrylic patch is applied over the bone cement plaque and a bar shoe with two clips is used to provide increased stability of the hoof capsule.

(Source: sports.nbcsports.com)

The hoof wall defect including the bone cement plaque and the acrylic patch will grow down during the following months and can be trimmed as needed until fully grown out. Ridden flatworm can be initiated as soon as the acrylic patch is in place and the horse is sound, which, in an uncomplicated case, is typically around 4 to 6 weeks postoperatively.

Hematomas can cause lameness due to focal pressure and inflammation of the sensitive lamina and underlying coffin bone. Spherical hematomas can be found at any location of the hoof wall and may not be apparent when inspecting the white line of the sole.

Depending on the chronic, radiographs may show a round bone defect in P3 with a smooth, sclerotic border. Differential diagnoses that should be considered are septic estates of the third phalanx, white line disease, and traditional hoof abscesses.

If radiography is inconclusive, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging can provide a definitive diagnosis. Advanced imaging will provide valuable information about the size and location of the hematoma to facilitate surgical planning.

This allows for a more targeted approach and use of a partial hoof wall resection as opposed to the originally described more radical debridement. The more limited partial hoof wall resection will also allow for a shorter convalescent period providing a much earlier return to exercise.

Complete and partial hoof wall resection for hematoma removal: postoperative complications and final outcome in 26 horses (1994-2004). Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging-assisted partial hoof wall resection for hematoma removal.

Outcome following computed tomographic imaging and subsequent surgical removal of hematomas in equips: 32 cases (2005-2016).

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