Equine thrush is a bacterial infection, F. necrophorum, which develops in moist airless areas of the hoof, especially the frog. The frog is a heart-shaped muscle in the center of the hoof. If thrush is left untreated, bacterial growth will cause the frog to become soft and spongy. causing permanent hoof damage and lameness.
As the horse walks, the hoof becomes packed with manure, debris and dirt that forms an anaerobic environment conducive to bacterial growth. The bacterial infection begins to damage the frog, causing soreness of the hoof.
Equine thrush is characterized by a black, moist, almost gooey substance surrounding the frog, as well as a strong, foul odor. The hoof sole and frog area may also be tender. After cleaning out the hoof, a dark stain will remain on the frog.
Curing thrush begins with proper hoof care. Since the bacteria are anaerobic, regularly cleaning your horse's hooves with a pick removes debris and keeps the frog area exposed to oxygen, thus killing the bacteria. Trim the hooves every six weeks. That will make it easier for oxygen to reach the infected areas of the frog, and aid you in applying medication directly to the infection.
You can spray or rub thrush medication that a veterinarian recommends directly onto the frog. Keep the hoof elevated until the medicine has a chance to reach the deep crevices surrounding the frog. Be sure to wear gloves and old clothing since the medication can stain. An experienced farrier can trim and treat the hooves if desired.
Home remedies such as bleach and hydrogen peroxide are more harmful than helpful. These harsh chemicals can burn healthy skin and create open wounds for other harmful bacteria to attack.
Not only should the bacterial infection on the hoof be treated, but you must pay attention to the horse's surroundings. Keeping the bedding and stall clean prevents bacteria from breeding in damp areas. Thrush is rare in environments that are clean and dry.
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