Last Updated on December 2, 2021
Thrush in the hooves is a common problem that many horses can suffer from. If you own or care for a horse or pony, it is essential that you understand how to recognize and manage this painful condition. But what are the best home remedies for thrush in horses’ hooves?
With the correct care and management, thrush in horses’ feet can be cured. Let’s learn all about this difficult hoof problem and find out what treatment options are available.
What Is Thrush In Horses Feet?
Thrush is a bacterial infection of the horse’s hoof. It mostly affects the soft tissue of the frog and the heel bulbs. Thrush may affect just one hoof at a time, or more than one.
The most noticeable symptom of thrush in horses’ feet is black discharge from around the frog. This discharge will smell deeply unpleasant, and you may notice the odor from some distance away.
In severe cases, thrush can cause lameness if the infection eats deeply into the frog tissue. It may also cause excessive growth of the tissues of the frog. Deep sores can develop in the soft tissues of the heel and frog.
What Causes Thrush In A Horse Hoof?
The bacteria that cause a thrush infection thrive in wet conditions. It lives in the crevices of the frog and heels, and if the hooves are exposed to wet conditions for long periods of time they will start to multiply and cause a severe and persistent infection.
The main conditions that cause thrush in horses’ hooves are:
- Wet, soiled bedding in a stable or barn
- Muddy grazing conditions
- Heavy rainfall causes persistently wet pasture
- Poor hoof care routine
- Inadequate hoof trimming, leading to deep frog clefts
Why Is Horse Thrush So Difficult To Cure?
Once a thrush infection takes hold, it can be very difficult to resolve. This is because the bacteria thrive in the soft, moist tissue that results from this persistent infection.
To eradicate thrush, it is necessary to eliminate all the bacteria and keep the hooves clean and dry. This is not very simple when the infection is causing a smelly black discharge!
Treatment Methods For Thrush In Horses Hooves
The first step in treating thrush is to keep the hooves as clean and dry as possible. If your horse lives in a stable or barn, you will need to remove soiled and wet bedding at regular intervals. If your horse is out in a wet field, it may be necessary to bring him inside for a few days to allow the hooves to dry out.
You must also pick out your horse’s hooves twice daily to remove any dirt or debris. Take care when doing this, as the tissues of the frog will be softer than normal.
Once you have cleaned out the hooves, the next step is to disinfect them. This must be done twice daily, with something such as dilute iodine. Stand your horse in a clean area until the hooves are completely dry.
If a case of thrush is identified and these steps put into place promptly, it may be possible to quickly stop the infection in its tracks. However, if after two or three days of treatment there is still a persistent smelly discharge, then additional measures may be needed.
One such measure is to get your horse’s hooves trimmed. Your farrier will trim back the tissues of the frog and widen out the clefts, making it easier for you to disinfect. This will also reduce the areas where bacteria can become trapped.
Best Home Remedies For Thrush In Horses Hooves
Before you embark on any home remedies for thrush, make sure that you have eliminated the cause as well. There is no point applying a treatment every day if your horse spends his days standing in a wet and dirty yard!
The key to treating thrush is through keeping the hooves clean and dry and disinfecting the hoof tissue twice daily. The standard veterinary advice is to use diluted iodine, but some other home remedies may also be effective.
Here are some of the best home remedies for thrush in horses hooves:
A spray of 50:50 white vinegar and water can be applied to the hoof after it has been cleaned. This will help to eliminate the bacteria that cause the thrush infection.
A very dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide can help to flush out infection from the clefts of the frog. Take care not to apply this potent chemical to any sores or bleeding tissue.
Apple cider vinegar has potent antibacterial properties and can be used as a hoof disinfectant after cleaning. Either spray it directly onto the hoof tissue or stand the horse’s hoof in a shallow bowl of apple cider vinegar for a few minutes twice daily.
If your horse has open sores of the frog due to a thrush infection, an application of raw honey can help to soothe and heal the area. Soak cotton wool balls in raw honey and push them into any open wounds and the clefts of the frog. Leave them in place until they drop out.
If you are not seeing any improvement after 48 hours of treatment, it is vital to seek veterinary advice. Thrush infections can eat deep into the tissues of the frog and may cause long-term lameness problems if left untreated.
So, as we have learned, thrush in horses’ hooves is caused by a bacterial infection that thrives in moist conditions. If your horse has thrush in his hooves, you will need to remove the initial cause, such as wet, dirty bedding, or a muddy field. Keeping your horse’s hooves clean and dry is the single most important step in treating thrush.
The best treatment for thrush in horses’ hooves is to clean and disinfect the hooves twice daily with dilute iodine. Other home remedies include apple cider vinegar and honey. However, if you are not seeing any improvement after a couple of days of treatment it is vital to seek veterinary advice.
We’d love to hear about your experiences – does your horse suffer from thrush in his hooves? Or maybe you have come across a different type of treatment for thrush in horses’ hooves? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!
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Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE