Hoof Abscess: Step by Step Guide on How to Poultice
A hoof abscess is more common in winter due to prolonged wet weather making the sole of the foot softer, therefore making it easier for foreign objects or dirt to enter the foot. However, learning how to poultice your horse’s hoof effectively can be tricky. Here we run through a step by step guide on how to poultice a horse hoof effectively, using recommended products we know work!
What Causes a Hoof Abscess?
Hoof abscesses are caused by dirt or gravel penetrating the white line, or a sharp object such as a nail from a loose shoe penetrating the hoof sole. You can’t see the white line, as it is within the internal structure of the hoof. However, the white line is present in all four feet and it is what separates another important internal structure, the laminae. The Laminae is split into two sections, the sensitive, and the non-sensitive Laminae. This area of the hoof is often associated with other horse health issues such as Laminitis.
The infection then rapidly 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 – this can be via the coronary band, but of course, if it does this then it has damaged sensitive foot structures along the way.
Hoof Abscess Symptoms
Lameness associated with an abscess will appear suddenly and will be severe. The horse will be reluctant to bear weight on their leg. The affected foot may feel warm to touch and have a raised digital pulse, or in some instances, there may be no other signs other than intense lameness. This in itself is a key area for hoof abscess diagnosis.
Often abscesses are seen the day after a farrier visit when the horse has been shod. To deal with this, you should call your farrier or your registered veterinarian immediately.
How do you treat a hoof abscess?
A vet or farrier will need to locate the abscess and drain the pus from the affected hoof as soon as possible. This is done by removing a small area of the horse’s sole. This should only be done by a qualified professional, and should not be attempted by anyone else who offers to assist.
Once the pus has been drained from the hoof, the entire foot must be cleaned before a poultice is applied. The poultice will help to draw out any remaining infection. There are different materials used to poultice a hoof, including nappies. Nappies are not recommended as they will not encourage any remaining infection away from the hoof. We recommend using as Animalintex Hoof Treatment from the Robinson Animal Healthcare Range to safely draw out and lock away infection from the hoof.
What you will need
To poultice a hoof affected by an abscess it is advisable to use a licensed product. You will also need a hoof pick, hygienic sponge and a bucket to clean the hoof prior to poulticing.
Padding such as Veterinary Gamgee and a cohesive bandage, such as Equiwrap will hold the Animalintex in place. For extra-large hooves, or for those horses that fidget and move around a lot, duck-tape may then be applied. However, the Equiwrap alone should be sufficient enough to keep the poultice in place.
The person applying the poultice should thoroughly wash their hands before beginning. To clean the hoof, use a saline solution or a level teaspoon of salt should be added 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 from entering the hoof.
How to apply a Poultice
To treat an abscess, the poultice should be applied hot. To prepare a hot poultice, place the unwrapped, Animalintex® in a shallow tray with the plastic side facing up. Remember to always use a clean tray!
Next, allow boiled water to cool to 38 degrees centigrade. 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. The poultice should be damp rather than wet.
Place the poultice on the sole of the foot with the plastic side facing upwards with a piece of veterinary gamgee. Secure the poultice and padding in place using a cohesive bandage such as Equiwrap®, using a figure-of-eight pattern across the sole of the foot.
When treating an abscess the poultice should be changed every eight hours for the first 48 hours.
In some instances, the abscess may rupture through the coronet band. If this does happen, do not panic but act as you would do with an ordinary abscess. Be sure, again, to consult your farrier or veterinarian for advice.
If in any doubt always consult your veterinary surgeon
Stay in touch with your registered veterinarian when dealing with a poultice. Also, discuss the issues with your farrier and be sure to book in regular appointments until you are both happy.
For more information on the Robinson Animal Health Care range contact them on 01909 735000 or visit www.robinsonhealthcare.com