Horse Heel Bulb Abscess – Causes, Diagnosis, And Treatment

Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by admin

A horse heel bulb abscess is a common problem that many horse owners come across, but luckily they are normally fairly simple to treat. However, some abscesses in the hoof can become more complex and difficult to cure. Let’s find out everything you need to know about treating a horse heel bulb abscess!

What Is A Horse Heel Bulb Abscess?

Abscesses of the horse’s hoof are a relatively common problem and can occur in many different sites around the hoof. An abscess occurs when a tiny amount of dirt or bacteria becomes trapped inside the body tissues. In the right conditions, the bacteria will quickly start to multiply.

These bacteria are trapped within the abscess site. As they multiply and then die, a build-up of dead cells and bacteria starts to form. This creates a thick white yellow liquid, known as pus.

What Is A Horse Heel Bulb Abscess

There can be many reasons why a horse may develop a hoof abscess. For an abscess to occur, bacteria must be able to penetrate into the body tissues. In the hoof, they may enter through a crack in the tissues or hoof wall, or an abscess may occur as a result of a penetrating injury such as a nail.

Click Here to Get Info About:

How Is A Horse Heel Bulb Abscess Diagnosed?

Horses with hoof abscesses normally show a classic set of clinical signs. They will be severely lame on the affected limb, and may well hold the hoofs off the ground. In fact, horses with hoof abscesses are often so lame that their owners are concerned that they have fractured the leg!

Another classic sign of hoof abscesses in horses is increased digital pulses. This means that an increased amount of blood is being pumped to the hoof in response to the surrounding inflammation of the Abscess. The digital pulses can be felt at the back of the fetlock.

It may be possible to detect localized pain within the hoof to locate the site of the hoof abscess. This can be tricky if the abscess is under the solid hoof wall, but if the horse has a heel bulb abscess this area may be painful when squeezed.

Formula 707 Hoof Health Equine Supplement, Daily Fresh Packs, 56 Day Supply

How Is A Horse Heel Bulb Abscess Treated?

The aim when treating a horse with a heel bulb abscess is to encourage the pus to burst out of the abscess. This is achieved by encouraging the bacteria to multiply as quickly as possible through the use of warmth. The heel bulbs are softened with moisture to allow the pus to track up to the skin surface and eventually burst.

There are a variety of ways in which heat and warmth can be applied to an abscess. The most popular way, particularly with a horse-heel bulb abscess, is to use a warm wet poultice. This helps to soften the skin and draw bacteria and pus up to the surface.

In some situations, the heel bulb can become too soft and the flesh may start to slough if repeated poulticing is applied. An alternative method used to draw out an abscess is a technique called hot tubbing. This involves standing the affected hoof in a tub of warm or hot water for up to 10 minutes several times a day.

While waiting for a horse heel bulb abscess to burst, the horse will feel a considerable amount of pain. Your veterinarian will normally prescribe painkillers to make your horse more comfortable.

Once the abscess bursts, you will need to continue to draw out the pus from the abscess as well as keep the site cleaned to prevent reinfection. Your veterinarian will normally advise wet poulticing for a few days until the majority of the pus is drawn out. After this, a dry poultice can be used to cover the Abscess site and prevent reinfection.

While treating a horse heel bulb abscess, you will need to keep the horse in a clean, dry place. Dirt and bacteria can easily track up through bandages and poultices into the abscess site, causing reinfection. The horse should be kept on dry bedding and never turned out into a muddy field.

Read more about What Is A Feed Through Horse Wormer?

Summary – Horse Heel Bulb Abscess

So as we have learned, a horse heel bulb abscess is normally fairly easy to treat, although some can be more complicated and drawn out than others. The best way to treat a heel bulb abscess in horses is to use a poultice to draw out the pus. This condition can be very painful for the horse, so a course of painkillers may be prescribed by your veterinarian.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the best way to manage a horse heel bulb abscess! Are you getting frustrated that your horse has a frequently recurring heel bulb abscess? Or maybe you’ve had really good success with a particular type of poultice and would like to share your ideas with us? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!


How long does it take for a hoof abscess to burst?

The length of time it takes for a hoof abscess in a horse to burst will depend on the location and depth of the absence. A superficial abscess near soft tissue such as the coronary band may burst within a day or two. Deep-seated abscesses under the hoof wall may take several days or even weeks to track out to the skin surface.

How do you draw out a hoof abscess?

When drawing out a hoof abscess in horses, the aim is normally to provide heat and moisture to bring the abscess to a head. Heat encourages the bacteria within the abscess to multiply and moisture softens the skin surface, allowing the plus to burst out. This can be achieved by using poultices or standing the hoof in hot water several times a day.

Does Bute help with an abscess?

Bute will not help to cure a hoof abscess in horses, but it will help to relieve the pain felt by the horse. Bute, or phenylbutazone is an effective nonsteroidal anti inflammatory painkiller.

How long can a horse be lame from a hoof abscess?

The lameness that horses normally experience with a hoof abscess will generally get better very shortly after the abscess bursts.