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Abscesses in Horses

A Closer Look at Horse Abscesses

Ever wondered why yesterday, your horse was normal, but today he/she will not apply any pressure on one foot? With no signs of an issue in the leg, hoof or injury, other than the sudden and painful lameness. What could have happened? One possibility is an abscess in the horse’s hoof. These can happen when bacteria get stuck between the sensitive laminae. This is the tissue layer that holds the hoof capsule to the coffin bone and the hoof wall or sole. The bacteria create pus or an infection. This quickly builds up and puts pressure behind the sole or wall of the hoof. The pressure from a horse abscess can become extremely painful and cause drastic lameness in your horse overnight.

Common Causes of Horse Abscesses:

  • A puncture wound to the sole or hoof wall or a foreign body lodged (a pebble or rock)
  • Nails from shoeing coming too close to the laminae or difficulties shoeing
  • Laminitis, Navicular disease or reaction to bruising
  • Trauma to the soft layers of the hoof
  • Contraction of the heels (heel bulbs have grown too close together forming a pocket)
  • Going from dry to wet ground conditions repeatedly
Vet Checking for Horse Abscess

Working through Abscesses

For us humans, a pimple would be the best comparison. The abscess needs to be emptied. The most common strategy is to open it and let it drain. Some will even pop on their own.

This can happen after the pus travels up the hoof to the coronary band or heel bulbs. This is the path of least resistance, where the wall is thinner and easier to break through.

Vet Checking for Horse Abscess

Working with the Vet

A vet can diagnose and drain the horse’s abscess but the best timing of this would be within a 3-day window of onset. (that’s of course if it does not pop on its own).  But it can easily take 7-10 days to completely close after draining.

You should notice your horse feeling much more comfortable a few hours after the abscess has been drained, but the soreness will continue for several days or weeks depending on the severity.

Abscess Drained and Wrapped

Keep Horse’s Area and Hoof Clean

  • Draining, soaking, bandaging and keeping the hoof clean are crucial to dealing with an abscess.
  • Regular farrier care and keeping your horse’s area clean can help to prevent abscesses.
  • This includes not standing on or being in wet pasture for prolonged periods of time.
    • REMEMBER; The feet need time to dry out.
  • See the article below for instructions on a Epson salt soak and clean dressings.

See this Vet’s Article on How to Treat a Horse Hoof Abscess


Nzymes® Recommended Support for Horse Abscesses

Nzymes Super-Food Granules for Horses of All Ages

Nzymes® Super-Food Granules
We suggest to DOUBLE amounts (below) during the first 2 weeks. 
Doubling is important with any kind of injury or recovery issue.

Add to Horse’s Feed Twice Daily
600 to 750 lbs. Horse = Add 3 level tsp.
750 to 1000 lbs. Horse = Add 4 level tsp.
1001 to 1250 lbs. Horse = Add 5 level tsp.
1251 to 1500 lbs. Horse = Add 6 level tsp.

Nzymes® BacPak Plus - Probiotic / Digestive Enzymes Blend for Horses of All Ages.

BacPak Plus 400 Gm
A Powerful  and Cost Effective Probiotic and Digestive Enzyme Blend
Add to Horse’s Feed Once Daily
600 to 1000 lbs. = Add 2 to 3 – 1 Gram Scoops
1001 to 1250 lbs. = Add 3 to 4 – 1 Gram Scoops
1251 to 1500 lbs. = Add 4 to 5 – 1 Gram Scoops

Nzymes® Ox-E-Drops - Refiller and Ox-E Topical for Horses of All Ages

Ox-E-Drops Concentrate
Give the horse 20 drops of Ox-E-Drops orally mixed 8-10 cc’s of water with a syringe.

Squirt slowly along the horse’s teeth-line to avoid choking.
Do this twice daily for healthier INTERNAL anti-microbial support.

NOTE: Best to order the 8 oz. Ox-E Refiller for these issues with horses.

Ox-E-Drops Given Orally to a Horse
Nzymes® Ox-E-Drops - Refiller and Ox-E Topical for Horses of All Ages

Ox-E Topical Spray Solution
We highly recommend that 2 times daily, and prior to applying the new clean dressing, for you to apply the Ox-E topical Solution either by spraying or sponging-on of the solution to the affected areas of the hoof or leg.

Nzymes® Ox-E-Drops - Refiller and Ox-E Topical for Horses of All Ages

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