Canker, thrush and white line disease (Top, Left to right) are examples of three different infections of the hoof capsule. Each of these behaves somewhat differently than the others. Farriers will often be the first to see the early signs of the infection.

Effective Strategies for Fighting Infections of the Hoof Capsule

Farriers are in the frontlines in the battle when horses come down with thrush, hoof canker and white line disease

An infectious disease is one caused by an outside pathogen such as a bacteria, virus, parasite or fungus. Infectious diseases may or may not be contagious from horse to horse. Elsewhere in the body, infectious diseases are often the result of infection by one organism from a specific source. Examples include neurologic disease due to West Nile virus infection from the bite of a carrier mosquito or strangles caused by Streptococcus equi transmitted from a sick horse. However, the three major infectious diseases of the hoof capsule behave somewhat differently.

Thrush, canker and white line disease all appear to be caused by more than one organism. The organisms that have been isolated from each of these conditions are a mixed bunch and are generally widespread in the environment. So if the organisms are so common, why are some horses badly affected while others remain untouched? In most cases, infections of the hoof capsule appear to be “opportunistic,” meaning that some other condition — in the hoof or in the environment — has rendered the hoof vulnerable to invasion…

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Christy Corp-Minamiji DMV

Christy Corp-Minamiji is a freelance writer and former large animal veterinary practitioner. She lives in Northern California.

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