Hoof Abscesses and White Line Disease

Hoof Abscesses and White Line Disease
My 12 year old mare has had 3 abscesses of the hoof in the last year. The vet noted on her most recent episode that "she has lots of separation of the white line of all 4 feet and I feel this is where the abscesses are coming from". He said this has the potential to be a chronic condition but not to worry myself too much at this point. He suggested short rounded trims and a hoof supplement. He said with good foot care and time (8 - 12 month's) the hoof wall should grow back and be ok. Is this sound advice or is there something else that would benefit and encourage hoof growth. She has been an incredibly sound horse up until this last year. Any suggestions or insights would be appreciated.

—Patricia in Indiana

We are pleased to have a guest veterinarian provide an answer today. Dr. Mark Baus of Grand Prix Equine, and current President-elect of the North East Association of Equine Practitioners, was kind enough to answer this challenging entry for us:

Dear Patricia,

Since the separation of the white line is occurring in all four feet, I would guess that the abscesses have also occurred in more than one foot. Your veterinarian's advice to care for this frustrating problem is certainly quite sound. I am concerned about two related possibilities that potentially explain the separation and the recurrent abscesses. I am concerned that your mare may have Equine Cushing's Syndrome and I would want to know if laminitis has subsequently occurred.

To arrive at a more definitive diagnosis, I would ask your veterinarian to perform two diagnostic procedures. Firstly I would ask for blood tests to determine your mare's Cushing's status. Bear in mind that these tests are not as accurate when performed in late summer through the fall of the year. Secondly, I would ask your veterinarian if it would be appropriate to take radiographs to determine the true amount of hoof wall separation and whether laminitis has caused that separation.

Even if both Equine Cushing's Syndrome and laminitis have occurred, the signs may well be managed by paying close attention to hoof care and diet along with the supplements your veterinarian has recommended. With the additional information, you will be able to more confidently manage your mare's long term health and soundness.

Lydia F. Gray, DVM MA, currently serves as the Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak Equine. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other locations. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association and enjoys training and showing her trakehner Newman in her spare time.  Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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