Thrush, Horse Hooves Need Extra Care

Thrush in horses is more frequent in damper parts of the United States. Media contact:, in most cases only water and a washcloth are necessary.). TA Cream is effective in combating Athlete’s Foot – a fungus infection – and Clotrimazole is a powerful treatment, especially useful in combating thrush. Typical thrush products are used daily until the hoof is healed, but always check the product label for treatment instructions. Hoof pick and then scrub the frog with a stiff brush, warm water and an antiseptic soap such as Betadine. This is not thrush but just a mild topical coating of anaerobic bacteria. The frog acts as a shock absorber for the foot as it strikes the ground. If the horse is kept in a run-in shed, the area should be cleaned weekly to help minimize the buildup of organic matter.

The product is not caustic and can be used as often as necessary to keep thrush under control and allow hoof tissue to thrive and prosper. Thrush is an infection of the frog in the foot of the horse and is usually caused by the anaerobic organism Fusobacterium necrophorum. Stick to a farriery schedule. As equine science has progressed over the years, many of these “remedies” are now red flagged and known to cause more harm than help. The disease begins when bacteria penetrate the outer horn, or epidermis, of the frog. In doing research for this article, we discussed the subject of thrush infections with many experienced horse owners and were surprised to discover how many of them never took the time to clean the hoof before applying a thrush medication or remedy. Whether in shod or unshod horses, lameness can be a direct result of poor frog condition.

You’ve seen it many a time–a horse gallops across a field and dirt clods fly every which way. Treating thrush needs a two-pronged attack: In earlier times, before people knew about bacteria, horsemen thought thrush was caused by secretions from the frog itself that collected in the clefts, making the frog moist and foul. Never apply pure eucalyptus oil to the skin, especially if the thrush has spread into the foot’s sensitive tissues, as the oil will burn and cause great discomfort. This is why it is also important to clean and pick the hoof every day and maintain a clean environment for your horse. Such feet are a happy breeding ground for the bacteria. So much so that in a significant number of cases, the owner isn't even aware that a problem exists and it’s often the farrier who is the first to recognize the condition. The most important is that horses eliminate (manure and urine) from the back end and the hind feet are more likely to be standing in this material than are the front feet, particularly in a stall situation.

  • If the horse isn't able to get out and move around freely, has overgrown feet, or some hoof conformation defect or lameness, his feet won't easily clean themselves, meaning thrush is more likely.
  • Your horse will experience some discomfort, but since it is easy to spot and easy to treat, this discomfort will not last long nor be severe.

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As a child, I used to be afraid of picking up a horse’s hoof. Tetanus cover must be given to an unvaccinated horse. Some hormone therapies are more effective than others in preventing heart disease. Symptom: cravings, if we kill more infection than our bodies can handle to clear, it will only end up causing problems. No matter how severe the thrush, the horse first needs to be moved to a clean, dry environment. Make sure the hoof is clean and dry before you apply!

Unfortunately apart from the very obvious thrush these can often go unnoticed by owners and hoof-care professionals alike.

When Rot is Afoot: Thrush

The term “thrush” gets hung on just about every hoof ache or pain that comes along, but it is not necessarily just one type of microbe that’s responsible. If dealt with early, thrush can be simple to treat, Fraley said, before it ever causes lameness or more serious issues. In most cases, thrush is basically a management concern and can be prevented by conscientious horse-keeping. A strong offensive odor will originate from the infected hoof. However, this is no cause for complacency. Improperly trimmed hoofs prevent oxygen from getting in the crevices. This bacteria occurs naturally in the environment, especially in wet, muddy, or unsanitary areas, but is not limited to damp and filthy areas.


Horses with contracted feet often have deep clefts (grooves on each side of the frog) where dirt and mud can accumulate. Brush the product deep into the frog and affected areas with a toothbrush. Thrush is an anaerobic bacteria that is not contagious. The cause is Fusobacterium necrophorum which occurs naturally in the environment. Get your horse’s frogs trimmed regularly - don’t allow the frog to grow to a point where it overlaps the clefts in the hoof as this will keep the clefts open for “self-cleaning” as the horse walks, gallops around the field, is schooled or hacked out. The central sulcus is more commonly involved if the horse has sheared heels; the lateral sulci are primarily involved in most cases of thrush (without sheared heels). The infection can be spotted by black discharge accompanied by a foul odor. After the application of your chosen medication, try and keep everything clean and dry.

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Lameness or sensitivity: An ounce of prevention: Oxygen is Bacterial Enemy Number One and will kill it on contact. Let the frog dry before moving on to the next step. Photo courtesy of Dr. Keep at this and you can get some really good healthy hoof growth, and you can dial it back and just do a maintenance routine. Thrush produces a foul smelling black discharge in the affected sulcus of the frog. Consequently, when without a host, they exist in spore form, sort-of in a state of suspended animation.


There are also some hoof sealers that help repel all the moisture, acid, manure and urine. This will help aerate the frog area, and the effectiveness of medication applied to the affected areas will be maximized. Hooves should be picked daily.

I decided to do some research on both types of thrush and see if there is any connection in type, symptoms or treatments. However, when used as part of a comprehensive prevention or treatment regime, they can certainly make a substantial contribution. If the foot is out of balance or has contracted heels, or if lameness keeps the horse from using the foot normally, that raises the risk for thrush. Concentrated formula quickly and safely kills the bacteria, fungus and yeast that cause thrush and other infections of the hoof wall, sole and frog. Salt water rinse, this can help the teeth appear whiter, but long term usage may damage your tooth enamel. Using a standard thrush treatment like Koppertox is not recommended. Early on, the infection is superficial and sometimes hard to identify. Chronic thrush is deeply rooted and is impossible to kill with one application of a strong topical agent.

Management Advice for Common Lamenesses

The long twist cap get the ingredients deep into these crevices where organisms thrive. Why can’t I just use any applicator? Daily cleaning of the hooves also contributes to the prevention of thrush. Gel formula stays put without running or waste. Speak to your vet or farrier about any homoeopathic remedies that they might recommend. Trimming away dead tissue will help provide less of an environment for microbes. Look carefully for any abnormal changes when you pick out your horse's hooves each day - the earlier you’re able to identify thrush, the better.

Presently, no one knows what triggers canker. Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report. This leads to atrophy of the frog, the grooves get deeper and the heels tighten very often causing lameness and requiring specific horseshoes to be fitted.

How Did My Horse Get a Stinky Foot?

Horses with poor hoof conformation, such as long and narrow feet, are more likely to develop thrush. As you continue, you notice a black, tarry substance coming off on your hoof pick that seems to be the source of the odour. I’ve seen feet so thrushy that when you use a hoof pick they bleed; the frog is soft and eaten up by the infection. REGULAR FARRIERY.

They repeated the test weeks later on chronic cases and came up with similar results. If you shoe your horse with metal shoes, keep the shoeing system simple, and remove metal shoes once in a while to improve circulation. “The normal foot is slightly concave and the laminae that attach the coffin bone to the hoof wall are slightly elastic,” he said. Horses that live in pasture permanently don't always have their hooves cleaned on a regular schedule—neither do wild horses for that matter. The condition is rare and more often occurs in the southeastern United States. Bleach over dries the hoof and doesn't really kill the infection. However, if not noticed and not treated or managed, the bacteria and fungi can extend through the horny tissue into the deeper, sensitive area of the foot, leading to infection, pain and lameness.

Logically, then, anything that increases airflow to the foot is going to assist in preventing the onset of thrush or helping to clear it up. In this situation, we would not recommend using harsh products that may burn. Unhygienic conditions. As indicated above, taking your horse barefoot is clearly at the top of this list. The infection is accelerated by lack of proper hoof hygiene. Horses who live in larger pastures probably won't require daily attention, but do check their hooves at least once a week to make sure no problems are developing. Regardless of the thrush remedy that is used, the most important steps in dealing with thrush are cleaning and trimming.

Why can’t I just use any applicator?

Thrush might not be as damaging to horse health as laminitis. Are there home remedies for a yeast infection skin rash? Even regular movement at a walk or trot cleanses your horse’s hoof. Thrush is an unpleasant infection of the horse's frog that is predisposed by moist, damp, dirty ground or stall conditions. The good news is with a little maintenance you can prevent your horse from getting thrush. It may take daily foot cleaning and care to prevent thrush.

How Can Thrush Be Prevented?

In some cases, a veterinarian or farrier will need to come out to pare away the infected tissues. Cleaning out all the grooves of the frog and using ointments and oils suited to the climate conditions and the condition of the hoof also help keep frogs healthy. Enteric-coated essential oils, these burden the immune system which is overburdened and struggling to overcome the yeast infection, they also feed the bacteria. The most common source of really severe thrush is in the cleft between the heel bulbs, called the central sulcus, which runs down the center of the frog. Bleach is not a recommended treatment for thrush.

If a horse needs the bottom of the foot protected, he prefers to use Equipack—a soft, instant pad material that’s squirted on with a gun and sets up within a minute—rather than a hoof pad.

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Pick out his feet daily to keep the infection from getting any worse. White patches are found in the mouth and the tongue. In this type of situation, a syringe (without the needle! )By keeping the frog healthy, proper blood circulation is maintained. Nutrition is very important.

Please read them carefully before browsing or using the site. Farriers may treat this condition with gauze soaked in disinfection solution that they “floss” between the heel bulbs. It kills any pathogens that are there, and it also helps toughen the frog so it won’t be so vulnerable. Horses and Horsemanship: Such balance lends itself to even loading, compression, and concussion, all of which promote good vascularity and overall foot health. A well-shaped frog also has a natural self-cleaning mechanism.

Some horse owners may associate this as “bad behavior,” when in truth it is not bad behavior. Swab the cleft of the frog and any other crevices in its surface. Thrush is not serious, unless it is left untreated. Moreover, most shod horses land toe-first or flat. At least once a day, thoroughly pick the hoof, paying special attention to the sulci. But usually if thrush causes lameness, it’s because the thrush is severe.

Our PASKABOX and FROG PROTEC solutions help to keep frogs healthy. Our PASKACHEVAL range is made up of products specially designed to maintain the overall health of your horse’s locomotor system. Find all our products at your nearest distributor.

This prevents excessive humidity by trapping water and ammonia from urine. More on health, this article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Prevention is the best treatment— keeping the horse in a clean environment, and cleaning feet often. The only known cause of canker is a lack of oxygen, but the more detailed causes are still a mystery. In our experience, successful management of these issues (the most common of which is thoracic navicular inflammation) eradicates the thrush (which would be considered secondary to the contracted heels) in more than half of the cases. Keep in mind that in severe cases of infection, it may take up to a year to regrow a healthy frog! It’s so insidious that it can slide in under the radar and our problem becomes repair rather than prevention; but to prevent takes vigilance and some effort on our part. The presence of thrush in a horse’s foot represents a management issue.

Mild winters can mean wet, muddy pastures for horses. A horse can get thrush in any environment. Common wisdom has it that thrush is caused by poor stable hygiene and extended time standing on wet, muddy ground. In a stall or in the paddock, the material under the foot is generally a mixture of bedding, dirt, manure and urine. Remove manure from paddocks regularly and keep watering areas as dry as possible. Can also be used prior to shoeing with pads and silicone.

Your horse is a lot less likely to get thrush if they are properly trimmed on a regular basis. It doesn’t require a fast run to accomplish this; even just regular movement at a walk and trot will be beneficial. Mild thrush is often recognized by its obvious black discharge and odor with no deep tissue layer invasions. Daily grooming and feet cleaning can keep the hooves healthy and strong. “You don’t want to dry and irritate sensitive tissue, especially if the thrush already is involving sensitive tissue,” he said.

It is in this damp, unclean environment where the bacteria and fungus can thrive causing the infection thrush.

Going Barefoot

Chronically lame animals seem to be at particularly high risk of recurring infection. The perimeter of the foot is bounded by the hoof capsule. “I’ve seen thrush in dry, arid places—where you would never expect it—in feet that were not healthy,” says Nelson.

With a higher heel the frog recesses below it, allowing more debris to accumulate. Recurring yeast infections, however, the Candida population can get out of hand if a round of antibiotics kills too many of the friendly bacteria, you have a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar (which feed the Candida), high alcohol intake, are taking oral contraceptives, or any number of other factors including a high-stress lifestyle. A thrush infection usually is fairly superficial in its invasion of the tissues. You need to get the liquid deep in to the hiding spaces to ensure its defeat! Likewise, a horse who is chronically lame as a result of another problem often develops thrush in the hoof of the affected leg. But not so for the anaerobes. No matter how much you clean, there are horses that will constantly stand in a fresh wet spot or manure pile. This is if the horse is bearing weight equally at all times, which we know is not the case, so these figures are the minimum pressure exerted upon the ground by the foot.

By staying on top of the horse’s stabling and turnout conditions, thrush can be avoided entirely. Keep stalls and paddocks clean. Pay special attention to the collateral grooves (area on either side of the frog) and the sulcus (center of the frog toward the back of the foot). For mild cases regular use of Sole Cleanse is advised, once problems are cleared up this is easy to apply and inexpensive to use as a preventative. Pick hooves often and keep an eye out for any changes in your horse's hooves.

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If you want to ask us a question not covered here, please e-mail the manufacturer at: In humans, it’s the same scenario. Consistency is the key. Post navigation, onychomycosis regressed partially and more slowly during the following months (Figure 1(f)). Can you see the black discharge in the crevices of the frog? These harsh chemical treatments will also kill good, healthy tissue as well as the thrush. Prevention is paramount when dealing with thrush. Added bonus is the cost for one ToMorrow syringe is only about two bucks.

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In these cases, management of the problem with Banixx spray, several times a week, is a must to control the problem. Moyer notes that in the vast majority of thrush cases, an owner isn’t even aware that a problem exists and it is the farrier who is the first to recognize a problem. Lameness can also have medium to long-term effects on a horse’s joints and tendons. The most obvious sign of thrush is a foul-smelling, black discharge from the central and collateral sulci of the frog. What are the benefits of detecting and preventing thrush? If you decide to use your bare hands, take care to scrub under fingernails as well.

Iodine, too, will dry the sole, so some horsemen spread a little iodine daily over the sole and frog to help toughen and harden the sole and keep the frog disinfected.