UC Davis Treats White Line Disease with Surgical Laser

Innovative approach eliminates previously undetectable pockets of bacteria and fungus

Pictured Above: White line disease is an umbrella term for a variety of bacterial and/or fungal infections that attack the white line and other tissues in the horse’s hoof. Photos: Shane Westman

Farrier Takeaways

  • ontributing factors, so it’s important to address nutritional deficiencies, living environment issues, possible traumas and other components in order to get the complete picture of what’s causing the problem in a particular horse.
  • Using a surgical laser to sterilize the hoof after debridement can lyse or photoablate the cell walls of the pathogens that cause white line disease, effectively eliminating pockets of infection.
  • A surgical laser is typically only available in a hospital or clinic setting, such as the one at UC Davis, and must be handled with extreme care.

From diagnosis to management, white line disease presents a multitude of challenges for the farrier, the veterinarian and the horse owner. An umbrella term for infections that attack the innermost layers of the hoof, white line disease often has multiple pathologies, which can make it difficult to treat successfully. Even after using mechanical debridement and antiseptic measures to kill the infection, insidious pockets of bacteria or fungus can often remain hidden away inside the hoof, ready to spawn another episode of the disease.

Managing this chronic condition can make many equine professionals feel like they’re stuck in an endless cycle of lameness exams, topical treatments and more, but there’s hope. At the University of California, Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in Davis, Calif., a team of…

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Allison rehnborg

Allison Armstrong Rehnborg

Allison Armstrong Rehnborg is a free­lance writer and pho­tog­­ra­pher from Nashville, Tenn. She has been pub­lished by several equine titles.

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