Foot abscesses in horses are very common and painful. Foot abscesses can be caused by anything from a stone bruise to an infection, to a fracture in the foot. Your vet can help you with the appropriate diagnosis, pain management, and treatment.
Horses with a foot abscess are often sore in the affected leg. They can vary from being slightly sore to non-weight bearing on the affected leg. Horses with foot abscesses often have heat in the foot, elevated digital pulses, and swelling around the pastern, fetlock, and lower cannon bone. Sometimes you might find a soft, sore spot on the coronet band where the abscess is about to burst out.
- Pick your horse’s foot out. Sometimes you will see discolouration or a sore spot on the bottom of the foot that might give a clue to a foot abscess.
- Soak your horse’s foot in warm water, Epsom salts, and iodine for 15min twice a day. You can use a soaking boot, feed tub, bucket, or anything else you have around. Fill up the water level so that the water covers the entire foot and comes just above the coronet band. Soaking softens up the foot, the Epsom salts help draw out an abscess, and the iodine is antibacterial.
- Bandage your horse’s foot in between soaking sessions or place the foot in a clean boot. This keeps it clean and dry, and when the abscess blows out, prevents mud and infection from tracking up into the open abscess. If you don’t have a boot, you can use a poultice/baby diaper, vet wrap, and duct tape to wrap the foot. You can also cut up an old feed bag to wrap around the bandage to prevent your horse from walking through the bottom of the bandage soon after you put it on.
- Once the abscess has blown, you can apply honey or sugardine (mix normal sugar with iodine until it forms a paste) and apply it directly to the area of the blowout, then proceed to bandage/boot the foot to keep everything clean and dry.
Dr Melissa Sim DVM