Horse Hoof Problems: Common Signs and Treatments

The last thing you want is for your horse to suffer from a nasty hoof problem. These hoof problems range in severity, with some problems more common than others. How can you identify the correct hoof problems so you can treat your horse? This article details the main horse hoof problems you might encounter with their appropriate treatments, giving your horse the opportunity to live a healthy, comfortable life.

Types of Hoof Problems

There are many hoof problems and diseases that exist. A few of the most common ones are the following:
• White Line Disease
• Thrush
• Solar Abscess
• Laminitis

White Line Disease

To identify this hoof problem, you should look at the sole of your horse's hoof. At the toe or heel, you will see a separation in the form of a crack or hole. The disease forms after fungus and bacteria enter the crack and begin to destroy hoof tissue. Although the precise cause of this disease in your horse might not always be clear, some of the common causes of this disease are previous hoof injuries, poor balancing and trimming, and too much moisture (which softens your horse's hoof). Another sign of the disease could be dry, brittle hooves. In some cases, if the disease has become severe, lameness may occur. The main treatment of white line disease involves removing the affected area of the hoof wall. This exposes the fungi and bacteria to oxygen, which makes it harder for them to survive. This area is than thoroughly cleaned until all the fungus and bacteria has been removed. Once this is clean, therapeutic shoeing is recommended if the damage caused to the hoof wall is severe.

Thrush

Another horse hoof problem, called Thrush, is a bacterial infection that affects the underside of your horse's hoof, specifically the center area known as the frog. This area is characterized by a "V" shape. A black discharge, accompanied by a foul smell, appears as a result of the bacteria infection eating away at hoof tissue. Although it is not known to put your horse through a lot of pain, Thrush could cause lameness if it is not treated in a timely manner. This infection usually develops in wet, dirty conditions. Therefore, to prevent thrush, keep the area where your horse stands, in both its stall and pasture, dry and clean. Also clean the frog on a regular basis. There are medications you can apply to the affected area to treat the infection. However, in more severe cases when the connective tissue of the frog has been damaged, diseased tissue needs to be removed by your vet.

Solar Abscess

Solar Abscess is one of the more common horse hoof problems. It is an infection located in the space separating the coffin bone and the hoof wall in the sole of your horse's hoof. This infection can put your horse in a lot of pain as it leads to inflammation of the hoof's sensitive tissues. It is this pain that causes sudden lameness. One of the main signs of a solar abscess is that your horse resists putting a lot of on its leg. In some cases, your horse might refuse to put any weight on its leg. A solar abscess can be caused by an injury to the hoof or even by an object that has penetrated the hoof. In most cases, if notified immediately, your vet can treat your horse without surgery. Your vet will drain the abscess, soak the hoof, and then wrap the hoof in a bandage. It is possible that they will also prescribe appropriate medications, which may include an anti-inflammatory or antibiotic.

Laminitis

Laminitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the laminae, or hoof tissue layers. The sensitive laminae support the hoof's pedal bone, which is the foundation of the hoof. Therefore, this tissue plays a vital role in supporting your horse's weight. There are two types of laminitis: acute (first time inflammation) and chronic (repetitive inflammation). Signs of acute laminitis include reluctance to move, abnormal periods of lying down, and decreased activity. For more chronic laminitis, you might notice irregular growth bands (known as laminitic rings) on the hoof wall.

One of the causes of laminitis is overeating of grains and grass. This leads to quick digestion, which produces a toxin that can make its way into your horse's bloodstream. This causes the inflammation mentioned above. Other causes include excessive exercise, previous infections, and some medications. If left untreated, the pedal bone can rotate. This is known as foundering. If you believe your horse may have laminitis, you should contact your vet immediately. An anti-inflammatory, and special hoof shoes, may be suggested relieve pressure and pain. To prevent laminitis, maintain a diet where your horse is fed less food, more often. This will prevent overeating. Since obesity increases the likelihood of laminitis, also plan a regular exercise schedule for your horse.

Prevention Advice for Healthy Horse Hooves

The best way to treat a horse hoof problem is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Preventive techniques include trimming or shoeing on a regular basis, maintaining proper nutrition, following a hoof cleaning schedule, and checking hoof balance.It is important to talk to your vet before implementing any of these treatments, as they can evaluate your horse and give it a proper diagnosis. Prevention for horse hoof problems can also be done through natural ingredients such as biotin, which will help strengthen your horse's hooves. Here is a natural supplement that includes biotin for horses: Hoof & Coat Formula for Horses

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