Which Cryotherapy Method Works Best for Cooling Hooves?

Methods that immerse the hoof and limb in ice and water to at least fetlock level are most effective.
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Which Cryotherapy Method Works Best for Cooling Hooves?
Cryotherapy has been shown to prevent laminitis in at-risk horses. | Photo: Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital
Continuous cooling of the hoof and its blood supply (cryotherapy) has been shown to prevent laminitis in at-risk horses. But which cooling method is most effective? Australian researchers recently evaluated several commonly used hoof-cooling methods to see how they compared.

“It’s important to cool the foot and the distal limb up to the fetlock or higher,” explained Andrew van Eps, BVSc, PhD, MACVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, an associate professor in equine internal medicine at The University of Queensland, in Australia.

Current research recommends lowering the horse’s hoof temperature to 5-10°C (41-50°F) continuously for 48- to 72-hour periods (or longer, if required) to be effective.

“It appears that any method that allows immersion in ice and water to the level of the fetlock, or a little higher to the mid cannon, is ideal,” he added

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Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

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