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 bares weight and it is unable to swell.
Foot abscesses are more common in wet weather because horses’ feet are softer and it is easier for foreign objects or dirt to penetrate the foot. If a horse is standing in mud there are more opportunities for dirt to get under the shoe, or into the foot of an unshod horse. 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 penetrates the hoof sole. 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 – 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, Animalintex® Hoof Treatment, secured with Equiwrap, is ideal for drawing out any remaining pus.
WARNING – Always speak to your vet as antibiotics and pain killers may be required. Also make sure your horse is vaccinated against Tetanus.
Animalintex® Hoof Treatment from Robinson Animal Healthcare is cut to shape for economy and convenience. Suitable for the rapid treatment of foot conditions it is the only veterinary licensed poultice on the market for equine treatment. It contains an antiseptic to clean and prevent re-infection and natural poulticing agent, Tragacanth, which, when it reacts with water, draws out any infection and creates a clean area for the wound to heal. Animalintex® and Animalintex® Hoof Treatment can be applied dry or as a hot or cold, wet poultice.
Most horse owners will need to poultice a hoof at some point and unfortunately, due to the prolonged wet weather, foot problems have become more prevalent. Make sure you are stocked up and clued up on foot poulticing…
How to Poultice a Hoof
To poultice a hoof, owners will need the following:
A hoof pick, hoof brush, hygienic sponge and bucket to clean the hoof prior to poulticing.
Saline solution or salt to add to previously boiled water.
A licensed poultice to ensure a safe and effective treatment for the horse e.g. Animalintex®.
Padding, e.g. Veterinary Gamgee®.
A suitable self-adhering bandage to secure the poultice and keep it clean and protected e.g. Equiwrap®.
A poultice boot – if the horse is going to be turned out.
First of all the horse should be secured on a clean dry standing and the hoof cleaned to prepare it for poulticing. A saline solution or a level teaspoon of salt per pint of previously boiled water should be used as it is sterile and will prevent further infection. The person applying the poultice should wash their hands thoroughly before starting the process and wear medical gloves if necessary.
To prepare a hot poultice, boil water and allow it to cool to 38 degrees centigrade (so that it does not burn the horse) immerse the poultice and squeeze out excess water. Note that if infected pus is present, the poultice needs to be damp (not wet) so that the pus is absorbed into the poultice. If a cold wet poultice is to be used, follow the same procedure as above but simply allow the boiled water to cool before application.
Cut the poultice to the shape of the hoof or use a hoof poultice e.g. Animalintex® Hoof Treatment. Position the poultice inside the sole of the foot (shiny side facing outwards) and then place some hoof shaped padding over it e.g. Veterinary Gamgee cut to shape. Secure the poultice and padding with a suitable bandage, using a figure-of-eight pattern, crossing on the sole of the foot.
The poultice should be changed at least every 12 hours. The progress of the ailment can be checked at the same time. If the horse does not respond to treatment or is showing signs of distress, call your vet.
For more information on the Robinson Animal Health Care range please contact them on 01909 735000 or visit www.robinsonhealthcare.com.