Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: Our farrier says my horse has developed an abscess in its left front foot. What should I do and is nutrition involved in these situations?
By Laura Petroski, B.V., M.S.
While hoof abscesses can cause extreme pain in horses, and are often distressing to horse owners, they are a common cause of acute lameness.
Despite being so common, a recent report pointed out that little up-to-date scientific information exists regarding factors contributing to the development of foot abscesses and which cases might be most likely to encounter complications and prolonged treatment. In fact, much of the data on hoof abscesses relies on personal opinion and experience rather than evidence-based medicine.
As with many lamenesses, protracted treatment increases costs, veterinary visits, time off from training or competition and quality of life.
To improve our understanding of hoof abscesses and to rapidly identify horses that might require prolonged treatment, a team of researchers reevaluated the medical records from 494 previous cases of hoof abscessation. The major findings were:
1. Abscesses occurred most frequently in the right front limb.
2. Contrary to popular belief, abscesses did not develop most frequently on the medial, or inner, aspect of the hoof but occurred equally on either side.
3. While widely thought to occur more frequently in wet weather, abscesses were predominantly diagnosed between June and November during periods of drier weather.
4. The presence of a drainage tract and higher lameness score was associated with shorter treatment times.
5. Complications included cellulitis (infection of the skin and underlying tissues), osteitis (inflammation of the lining of the bones in the foot), hoof cracks, septic joints and recurrence. Each of these prolonged treatment times.
In terms of treatment, the researchers found that antibiotic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, two medications frequently used in horses with infections, could actually be contraindicated. These medications prevent the abscess from maturing, thereby allowing the microorganisms responsible for the abscess to invade surrounding tissues.
To support overall hoof health, examine your horse’s feet daily. Call a veterinarian in cases of acute lameness and feed a hoof supplement that contains methionine, zinc, iodine and biotin.
Laura Petroski is a staff veterinarian for Kentucky Equine Research in Versailles, Ky.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine).
Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.
Click here to read Part 1 of the May 1, 2019 installment: What seem to be the biggest challenges facing owners when it comes to feeding their horses?