Let’s Talk Foot Abscesses

With the high amount of rain we’ve had lately, the environment has been perfect for the development of a foot abscess. Check out some basic info as well as treatment tips below!

Foot abscesses are caused when bacteria is introduced to the foot, and this bacteria produces gas and a small amount of fluid. This allows pressure to build up in the foot which becomes increasingly painful. Signs owners may see include sudden lameness, hot foot capsule, and increased digital pulse. As we say in the veterinary world, and acute lameness is a foot abscess until proven otherwise!

Prompt care is important so that the gas and fluid production causes minimal damage to the foot. It wants to take the path of least resistance out of the foot, so we try and soften the sole through soaks. Our hope is to open the abscess before it tracks up the hoof wall. Abscesses that do this take longer to resolve. Antiinflammatories like bute or equioxx an be used to help keep your horse comfortable through he process.

Here are a few tips for managing foot abscesses

  1. Soaking with IV fluid bags. Ask your handy dandy vet for some IV fluid bags to make foot soaks easier. Place your warm water and epsom salt in the bag, then place that on your horse’s foot. Use some elasticon or duct tape around your horses ankle (not too tight!) to keep the bag on. Now your horse can’t get in trouble for knocking over the bucket you so carefully prepared!
  2. Choose your poison. Choose a drawing salve to help pull the abscess out of the foot. While ichthammmol is one of the most popular and does a good job, it’s not our favorite. One question owners ask is “how long do I need to wrap?” The answer is a few days past when the abscess is done draining. Well, if you have a black goo covering the foot, how will you know? It’s for this reason that we suggest using Magna paste, DMSO gel, or animalintex pads.


3. Invest in some animalintex pads. If you have a horse that is difficult to soak or are honestly looking for an easier route, these are the ticket!

4. Make a good foot wrap. One of our favorite wraps is made from a baby diaper, vet wrap, then some good ole duct tape. Reason 478931 for keeping duct tape in your barn.

We hope you may have found a new tip to make managing a foot abscess a bit easier!

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