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Don’t Panic When Encountering Milky Frog Fluid

Plugged ducts can result in white discharge during trimming

The frog is the softest part of the hoof, even though it is made up of the same fibrous material as the rest of the external foot. It’s softer and more pliable because it contains oil glands and more moisture than the hoof horn and sole. In moist conditions, the frog might be nearly 50% water, by weight.

Being softer and more flexible (a bit like rubber), the frog functions as a shock absorber — directing the concussion outward instead of up the leg — when the foot hits the ground. The softer frog complements the relatively rigid hoof capsule, allowing the hoof to have some give (enhancing its ability to expand when weight is placed on it) to counteract the shock and concussion of traveling on hard surfaces.

When trimming the frog, occasionally the farrier encounters small pockets of whitish fluid. If he or she hasn’t run into these pockets before, the first thought might be that this is an abscess — except there’s no soreness and the fluid is not the pus you’d find in an abscess.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Occasionally, a blocked duct from the merocrine gland can lead to a milky white discharge while a frog is being trimmed.
  • As long as the horse is not lame or sore, treatment of the pasty fluid is not necessary.
  • While there are a few theories about why these deposits occur, there have been no studies to confirm their purpose.

What Is It?

Some hoof-care professionals feel that these secretions…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. She has been writing books and articles for nearly 50 years.

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