Short answer is, yes. While thrush is not an equine emergency and your horse may not be lame,it shouldn‚Äôt be ignored. Thrush is an infection (bacterial or fungal) that damages the sole‚Äôs soft tissues: frog, sulcus, bulbs, and heal. If left untreated the infection can spread into the frog‚Äôs underlying tissue and the digital cushion.
Signs of Thrush Include
- Foul foot odor
- Black pasty discharge in the sulcus (grooves alongside the frog and center of the frog)
- Sulcus crevices are deep trapping dirt and bacteria
- Frog and heel are tender to the touch
- Walks toe-heal
- Lameness and swelling in advanced cases
- Horses living in muddy paddocks or dirty stalls
- Potential for infection increases during rainy seasons
- Horses whose sulci are genetically deep, as they trap dirt and bacteria
- Horses with tall narrow hoofs, as their sulci tend to be narrow which traps dirt and bacteria
- Sedentary horses because the natural expansion and compression of the hoof during exercise which cleans the feet is absent
- Horses whose feet aren‚Äôt picked on a daily basis
A little front-end preventative care can save you a lot of work down the road.
- During the rainy season clean and dry your horse‚Äôs feet when they come in from a muddy pasture.
- Clean stalls daily. If turnout is impossible pick stalls more often.
- Pick your horse‚Äôs feet daily.
- Consider placing rock in high traffic areas, like around gates and water troughs, to reduce mud packed hooves.
If a horse isn‚Äôt lame in many cases owners can use one-of-a-number of over the counter thrush treatments. Depending on the medication and level of infection treatment can last 7-14 days. In more advanced cases your veterinarian may need to debride the infected soft tissue, evaluate lameness, and prescribe antibiotics.
Take Away Message
Good hygiene is the key to keeping your horse‚Äôs feet free from thrush. Or, as the old say goes, ‚Äúan ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.‚Äù