Hoof Abscess

By: Dr. Lydia Gray

What is it?

A hoof abscess is a bacterial infection inside the hoof that can cause horses to be suddenly and severely lame. Any break in the hoof wall-sole junction such as a misplaced nail, crack or puncture wound can allow contaminated debris inside the hoof where it migrates to living tissue. The body responds by sending white blood cells (neutrophils) to fight off the invaders. The smelly, gray/black discharge from a hoof abscess is a combination of these white blood cells, the bacteria they are fighting off, and hoof tissue that has been destroyed in the process.

What can be done about it?

Left untreated, most hoof abscesses will travel upwards and burst out at the softer coronary band. However, farriers and veterinarians prefer to pare an opening in the bottom of the foot for drainage to relieve the pain sooner and avoid potential complications. In addition, experts suggest replacing traditional hoof soaks—which may also lead to problems in the future—with poultices, other drawing agents, and kits made especially for hoof abscesses.

What else do I need to know?

The classic appearance of a hoof abscess is a horse that unable to bear weight on one front leg, a warm hoof, and a “bounding” digital pulse. Sometimes there is swelling in the pastern. A veterinarian should examine horses that do not improve with treatment, or have pain in more than one leg, an obvious injury, or repeated abscesses, as these signs could indicate a more serious condition such as laminitis or fracture.

About Dr. Lydia Gray

Have questions? Contact us »
Connect with us:

Brittany and Nate
Ever since I was the girl with 1,000 breyer horses and the raggity braid in her hair, I was always obsessed. In second grade I moved into a town with a barn right down the street, which is when I started taking lessons...

Learn more »

Recipe: Homemade Carrot and Oat Treats
It has been such a cold and snowy winter here in Massachusetts for the past few months. I look for any excuse to fire up my oven. Prior to visiting my horse Bug last weekend I decided to make her

Read More »

Download our mobile apps

Put SmartPak in your pocket with these awesome apps!

Check It Out »

Healthy horses, happy riders.
SmartPak is committed to a greener planet.
Sign Out
Sign Up Now!
Free Catalog Get Yours Now!

SmartPak Equine™ is the premier online provider of horse supplies and equine supplements.
Questions? Call us Toll-Free at 1-888-339-9695. © Copyright 2014 by SmartPak Equine LLC. All Rights reserved.