How to effectively treat thrush in horses

23. October 2020 / Guide / 3 Minutes
How to effectively treat thrush in horses

What is thrush?

When a horse suffers from thrush (also known as hoof rot), the frog groove of the horse's hoof is attacked and decomposed by spindle bacteria. As the frog is the most important part of the hoof mechanism and acts as a kind of shock absorber, thrush can have devastating consequences if the inflammation is not treated.

Where does thrush come from (cause)?

A horse is particularly susceptible to thrush if the surface on which it stands most of the time is wet or damp. This is often the case in autumn and spring when the meadows and paddocks are wet and muddy.

Bedding also makes horses particularly susceptible to hoof rot due to the damp and ammonia-rich surface. The layer of urine and dung attacks the hoof and creates cracks, which are ideal nesting places for rot bacteria and germs.

Ammonia containing subsoil

In addition, hoof rot can also be caused by insufficient exercise, as the hoof only produces high-quality horn if the horse is regularly exercised and the blood flow to the tissue, which is responsible for horn growth, is stimulated. Poor horn quality, for example caused by a zinc deficiency, can also make a hoof susceptible to thrush.

How can I recognise thrush in a horse (symptoms)?

When picking up the hooves to scrape them, a very unpleasant and foul smell can already be noticed. The frog of the horse's hoof appears very soft and its furrows are deeper than usual. The cavities in the frog furrow formed by the rot are filled with the secretion responsible for the smell, which is usually black.

Thrush

What is the progression of the disease?

At the beginning, the middle frog furrow is usually affected. The soft horn of the frog dissolves and the dark, greasy secretion develops, which is responsible for the foul smell. In the following stage, the rot spreads to the lateral frog furrows. If the disease is not recognised and treated in time, the rot will spread to the hoof wall and sole.

What can be done against thrush in horses?

In order to treat thrush successfully, the first thing to do is to check the conditions under which the affected horse is kept. The basic prerequisite is that the horse must stand on dry matting in the future. Then the first measure could be to provide dry matting.

This means:

  • regular mucking out/cleaning and removal of all wet areas
  • Covering muddy paddocks with paddock mats to prevent the ground from becoming too wet.
  • Regularly muck out paddocks and pastures.
Horse manure

Consistent and thorough hoof care is just as important:

  • the hooves should be scraped and treated several times a day if possible
  • regular visits to a vet, and
  • regular check-ups with a farrier.

What does treatment look like?

In order for the frog to be treated successfully and for care products to be absorbed, the hoof and frog should be cleaned thoroughly. It is helpful to have the affected area treated by a farrier beforehand in order to remove any rotten tissue from the hoof and to make the remaining hoof receptive to care products.

Which treatment helps against thrush?

Once the frog has been cut free or cleaned, the actual treatment can begin. For this purpose, a compress is soaked with a disinfectant solution or a care product and pressed into the frog furrow with the help of a clean hoof scraper. The pressure exerted on the horn by the cotton ball has a positive side effect - it promotes horn growth.

Biotin, which has a positive effect on the horn quality of the hooves, can be fed as a support.

How long does it take to treat thrush?

The duration of the treatment is individual and depends on the stage of the rot as well as the growth of the horn. It is important for a good recovery that the treatment is consistent.

How can thrush be prevented?

In order to prevent thrush from developing in the first place and to ensure that the horse's hoof can develop healthily, it is important to ensure that the surface on which the horse spends most of the day is dry. In addition to regular visits by an experienced farrier/hoof trimmer, the hooves should be regularly cleaned of trampled dung, dirt and stones 1-2 times a day.

Of course, the horse's sole and frog can be cared for preventively with Leovet StrahlSan.

Other products for the treatment of thrush