Healing Hoof Abscesses

Hoof abscesses are a major cause of acute lameness in horses, but early detection can mean a quick recovery.
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Healing Hoof Abscesses
Photo: Erica Larson/The Horse

Hoof abscesses are a major cause of acute lameness, but early detection can mean a quick recovery

One day your horse is perfectly sound, the next he’s acting as if he’s got a nail in his foot. As you wait for the veterinarian to arrive, you envision worst-case scenarios. The diagnosis? An abscess.

The good news is abscesses are easily treated if caught early. If you detect them promptly, there’s a good chance the horse will recover completely within 48 hours. However, veterinarians and farriers are rethinking one age-old treatment method. Podiatry experts such as Stephen O’Grady, DVM, MRCVS, owner of Northern Virginia Equine in Marshall, Va., say continuously soaking the foot until the abscess “pops” might be causing more damage than benefit. Instead, experts suggest a combination of poultices and soak bandages that localize treatment to the affected area.

But before you can set about treating an abscess, it helps to understand the cause

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Written by:

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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