Hoof Diseases In Horses – How To Spot And Treat Them

Hooves are tough, solid structures of a horses feet that have soles covered with a solid wall made up of keratin. Despite their hard appearance, hoof diseases in horses do exist and the illness must be immediately cured if the horse is to survive and not suffer lameness.

The most common hoof ailments in horses include:

* Injury

Signs: lameness, a visible red sole area, painful reaction when touching the sole

Cause: an injury due to stepping on hard objects

Treatment: limiting horse movement, letting the animal move on softer ground, attachment of temporary pads to ease the pain, application of antibiotics on the affected area

* Laminitis

Signs: lameness, the horse favoring its back feet while standing

Cause: shock, stress, heat, frost, fever, taking steroids

Treatment: the disease is complicated to treat and needs a veterinarian

* Thrush

Signs: lameness, the occurrence of a black foul smelling discharge located on the frog (the middle of the hoof)

Cause: bacterial infection due to standing in dirty muddy areas or wet unclean stables, sheds or barns, irregular bone structures of the hoof

Treatment: taking medications to treat thrush, trimming the damaged part of the hoof, application of medicines applied on skin, consult a veterinary surgeon

* Seedy Toe

Signs: the hoof wall separates from the white line, resulting in an opening in which bacteria and fungi enter and infect the inner soft tissue

Cause: chronic laminitis, constant hard contact with hard surfaces, too long feet

Treatment: use of antibiotics, regular trimming of the diseased part, packing with medicated putty while a hole still exists

Avoiding Diseases

To prevent the different hoof diseases in horses the following are recommended:

* A close working relationship must be established between the horse owner and the veterinarian and farrier

* Regular hoof trimming must be done 6 to 8 weeks during summer and about 6 to 12 weeks during winter

* Regular brushing and checking of hooves

* Fill out holes in pastures to prevent the formation of mud

* Regular cleaning of barns, sheds, and stables

* A constant supply of good clean hay, vitamins, and food supplements

When to Call a Veterinarian

There are instances that home treatment is not enough when treating the different hoof diseases in horses.