Ask Auz: Wet Feet & Thrush
Question to Auz:
“My horse is out in the pasture year round, but he has a run-in for shelter. When I picked his feet today, his frog was soft and the part towards the heel was white. How do I treat this and how can I keep his feet dry? ” – A. Palmer from Kentucky
Dear A. Palmer,
Thank you for the inquiry regarding your horses’ wet feet. Moisture on the surface of the hoof is not so harmful as long as the foot has a chance to dry during the day. For instance, a rainy day or a night with heavy dew can actually help a horses’ hoof remain normal and flexible. Horses with very dry hooves can be prone to cracking and excessive hardness. This not good either.
The problems you refer to can definitely be harmful. Here’s why.
A constantly wet foot leaves the hoof wall softer than normal and allows harmful bacteria and fungi to grow freely. Bacteria and fungi both love to grow in dirty, dark, damp places.
What better place for these nasty enemies to grow? Well they really are not enemies so much as they are opportunists. Let’s look at it this way. The earth needs bacteria and fungi to help it digest trash from plants and animals etc. Our problem occurs when these same useful critters find our feet to be delectable and start to “digest” them as though they were trash.
So, the excess moisture on or in the hoof and foot provides the needed environment for growth of possible infectious agents.
What you have described, sounds like the early stages of a wet foot syndrome predisposed to Thrush or other infections.
A constantly wet environment is therefore a set up for “thrush” and other infections by usually friendly growing critters.
Of course, obviously in some cases one cannot dry the whole outside world.
An easy and more available solution to help is to pack the frog and sole in a boot or sock filled with ordinary granulated salt. Any kind of edible salt is acceptable. This a safe and effective way to help dry the foot and rid it of most forms of Thrush.
We can also help the foot dry out by drenching the sole and frog with Iodine solution. Unfortunately, this provides very temporary relief and can also be a problem if you get the Iodine solution on the horses’ skin or your own skin so it is not advised unless there seems no other easy solution to the problem.
Finally, if there is a serious problem such as an open sore or tenderness in the frog or sole your best choice is to call your veterinarian and ask him or her to look at the horse and recommend treatment. Don’t forget the Dr. sees these things all the time in your area and might have some really simple and safe treatments for you use. Don’t forget to keep your horses’ feet trimmed regularly.
To help maintain healthy skin and feet, our ranch uses Equivite® vitamins every day. I love them and it helps us feel better too.
Thank you for contacting us,