Hoof abscesses are very common in horses. They are the most common reasons behind a sudden lameness. Abscesses occur from bacteria that enters into the foot and infects sensitive structures of the foot.
Symptoms of an abscess are sensitivity to hoof testers or percussion, lower leg swelling and increased digital pulse. Abscesses can erupt on their own from either the sole of the hoof or the coronary band.
Your vet may instruct you to finish treating the abscess at home if they cannot drain it all at once. When treating an abscess, the goal is to draw the infection out of the hoof while keeping the area clean to prevent reinfection.
You could debilitate the hoof wall if you soak the hoof several times a day while you are draining and erupting the abscess. Instead, try applying a drawing agent such as ichthammol or Epsom Salts under the hoof bandage to pull the infection out.
In order to do this you will need a flexible bucket (grain buckets work well), Epsom Salts, poultice pads (or Iodine), sheet cotton (or a diaper), an elastic bandage (Vet Wrap®), and duct tape.
Here is how to do it:
- Combine warm water and Epsom salts in a flexible bucket until no more salt can be dissolved.
- Soak the entire hoof up to the coronary band in the salt water. This will help draw out the infection and encourage the abscess to erupt.
- Use hot water to soak up a poultice pad, If you do not have a poultice pad, you can create one with Epsom salts and iodine making it into a form of paste.
- Place the pad over the sole of the hoof. If you are not using the poultice pad, pack the Epsom salts and iodine paste into the hoof so the entire sole is covered.
- Wrap the hoof in sheet cotton or a diaper.
- Secure the cotton/diaper by wrapping it with the elastic bandage.
- Cover the entire bandage with duct tape for durability. Helpful hint: Circulation to the hoof and lower leg is imperative, so be sure to not wrap the leg too tightly.
This process will not only help to draw out the infection but it will also keep the hoof clean and protected from dirt and debris to avoid reinfection.
If you found this blog helpful, please share How to Treat a Hoof Abscess at Home with your horse community to help others care for their horse properly. For more information on treating hoof abscesses, visit: http://www.equipodiatry.com/footsoak.htm