Blog Exclusive: Hoof Care with Robinson Animal Healthcare
As the old saying goes ‘no hoof, no horse’ and considering the hooves support the entire weight of a horse’s body, conditions related to the hoof can have huge implications on soundness and be time consuming to treat.
Top Tips for Hoof Care
The farrier is your greatest ally in the fight against hoof conditions – make sure your horse sees the farrier every six to eight weeks. Try making life easy for them by ensuring your horse is brought in from the field ahead of their arrival and the hooves are clean.
Keep an eye on your horse’s hooves, looking for signs the farrier is needed, such as raised clenches. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if they attend regularly.
It may sound simple, but it is essential that hooves are picked out daily and cleaned with a hoof brush and water if they are muddy. By thoroughly checking the hooves every day, any issues can be caught early and action taken to minimise damage to the hoof.
Good stable management is also important for hoof health. Standing in damp, dirty bedding can predispose horses to thrush, and wet conditions can also soften hooves making it easier for dirt and foreign objects to penetrate the outer structure. Heat in the hoof accompanied by the sudden onset of lameness could indicate an abscess.
Ensure your first aid kit is always stocked with Animalintex® Hoof Treatment which is the only VMD licensed multi-layered absorbent poultice available in the UK. A must have item for any horse-owners first-aid kit.
Treating a Hoof Abscess
Hoof abscesses are one of the most common causes of lameness in horses. The onset of pain can be rapid and debilitating, but with the correct treatment most cases recover well, in a relatively short period of time.
An abscess is a cavity containing pus, which is a collection of dead cells, bacteria, and other debris resulting from an infection. As the amount of pus increases in a foot abscess it becomes painful as the hoof continually bears weight and is unable to swell.
Hoof abscesses are commonly caused by dirt or gravel penetrating the white line (weakest area on the sole of the foot) or when a sharp object, such as a nail from a loose shoe, penetrates the sole of the hoof.
Infection then quickly develops with a build-up of pus within the confines of the hoof, which is extremely painful for the horse. Abscess treatment needs to commence quickly to halt the abscess finding its own exit point - often the coronary band, but of course if it does this, then it
has destroyed sensitive foot structures along the way.
A vet or farrier will need to locate the abscess and drain the pus. Once the pus has been drained the foot must be cleaned, before a poultice such as Animalintex® Hoof Treatment is applied to draw out any remaining pus.
Animalintex® contains an antiseptic to clean the wound and prevent re-infection and a natural poulticing agent, Tragacanth, which draws out any infection and creates a clean wound area to facilitate healing.
Applying a Poultice
To poultice a hoof affected by an abscess you will need a licenced poultice, a hoof pick, hygienic sponge and a bucket to clean the hoof prior to poulticing. You will also need some form of padding such as Veterinary Gamgee® and a cohesive bandage, to hold everything in place.
The person applying the poultice should thoroughly wash their hands before beginning, and a saline solution or level teaspoon of salt per pint of previously boiled water should be used to clean the hoof. This is a sterile solution that will help towards preventing further infection entering the hoof.
To treat an abscess, the poultice should be applied hot. To prepare a hot poultice, place the unwrapped, Animalintex® in a shallow tray (that has been thoroughly cleaned) with the plastic side facing up.
Next, allow boiled water to cool to 38 degrees centigrade and pour the water into the tray around the edges of the poultice. Remove the Animalintex® from the water when saturated, squeezing
out the excess water, so the poultice is damp rather than wet.
Place the poultice on the sole of the foot with the plastic side facing upwards and then cover with a piece of Veterinary Gamgee® that has been cut to shape. Secure the poultice and padding in place using a cohesive bandage, using a figure-of-eight pattern across the sole of the foot. To finish, apply a few strips of duct tape to the sole of the foot to help keep everything in place.
When treating an abscess, the poultice should be changed every eight hours for the first 48 hours. If in any doubt always consult your veterinary surgeon.
Robinson Animal Healthcare has a wide range of products for all your first aid requirements including the market-leading Animalintex® and the legendary Veterinary Gamgee®.
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