Q: My 13-year-old Morgan has had very bad thrush for six years. The most recent treatment our vet recommended is soaking the feet in Epsom salts and packing them with iodine-soaked gauze. He’s stalled when it’s wet, and the stall is cleaned daily. We’ve tried this for about six weeks; as with the other treatments, we’ve seen little to no improvement. Do you know any other treatments or possible solutions?
A: As you have discovered, there are many treatments that are supposed to clear up thrush, but don’t. That’s because there’s a critical part of the treatment that most owners do not recognize: Cleaning up the affected area before you treat the problem. Here’s a quote from Michael Wildenstein, American Farrier’s Association, Certified Journeyman Farrier, resident farrier at Cornell University’s large animal hospital: “Thrush is the most common bacterial infection (of the hoof); it reduces the protection by the insensitive frog. Thrush that invades the central sulcus of the frog can enter the digital cushion, causing inflammation of the sensitive tissue. Treatment of thrush includes daily cleaning of the infected area with a brush (stiff enough to scrape out the debris). Then, and only then, treat the area with a suitable antibiotic preparation.
“Currently I use the bovine mastitis preparations that are designed for dry-cow treatment.” (Partly from Equine Medicine and Surgery, 5th ed., 1999, Mosby, Inc., p. 1428.)