Horses and Thrush: What You Need to Know

by Caitlyn Andrews January 11, 2016

Horses and Thrush: What You Should Know

Mild winters can mean wet, muddy pastures for horses. Unfortunately, these are ideal conditions for your horse to develop thrush.

Here, we'll discuss how to:

  1. PREVENT
  2. IDENTIFY
  3. TREAT THRUSH

1. Prevent Thrush

Warm winters with lots of rain (much like the winter we've been experiencing so far here in the Midwest) can mean muddy fields. Thrush is often caused by damp, moist, dirty ground or stable conditions.

Unfortunately, you can't control the weather. The good news is with a little maintenance you can prevent your horse from getting thrush. Try to keep your horse in the driest field if at all possible. If horses are out in the mud, bring them into the barn to clean out their hooves and let them dry. Let them spend their nights in a stall if possible. If you have something like a three sided shelter and you can't bring them inside a barn then you can still pick their hooves regularly to help prevent thrush. Hooves should be picked daily. If your horse is stalled, clean the stall at least once a day to prevent your horse from standing in soiled bedding that could promote thrush.

2. Identify Thrush

What is thrush? 

Thrush is an infection of the central and lateral sulcus, or clefts, of the frog of a horse's foot. It is most often a bacterial infection but can be fungal. Thrush isn't life threatening but left unchecked it can cause some serious issues in your horse's foot.

What does thrush look like? 

Thrush is easily identified by a foul-smelling, black discharge in the affected area. Usually, there is pain when applying pressure to the frog. Occasionally, the infection can result in swelling of the lower limb. It is more common for the hind hooves to be affected by thrush rather than the front. 

3. Treat Thrush

If you suspect your horse has thrush then you should consult your farrier. Have your farrier come out and trim the overgrown frog. Trimming the frog helps get rid of the infected part, allows air circulation and will make treatment more effective.

Next, clean the hoof. When the frog has been trimmed you can scrub the entire hoof with a stiff brush and warm water. Allow the hoof to dry before applying your thrush treatment.

Apply the topical thrush product. There are a variety of thrush products out there. Kopertox is a good option that provides water-resistant protection. Apply daily until the hoof is healed. Absorbine liniment is also a good choice. It's a good, multipurpose liniment to have around that treats ailments from sore muscles to rain rot and thrush. Simple iodine can also be used to treat mild cases of thrush, but be aware that it can dry out the hoof. You may have heard of bleach as a thrush remedy. Bleach over dries the hoof and doesn't really kill the infection. Bleach is not a recommended treatment for thrush.

Typical thrush products are used daily until the hoof is healed, but always check the product label for treatment instructions. Consult your vet or farrier if the thrush persists or reoccurs.

A Final Word on Thrush

In the end, the best treatment for thrush is prevention. Keep your horse's living areas clean and dry. Pick hooves often and keep an eye out for any changes in your horse's hooves. A proactive approach goes a long way in keeping your horse happy and healthy.



Caitlyn Andrews
Caitlyn Andrews

Author



1 Response

LONNETTE JOHNSON
LONNETTE JOHNSON

March 23, 2016

I DO ALOT OF READING ON LINE ABOUT HORSES AND THEIR MIDICAL CONDITIONS. AND IF THERE IS ONE THING I HAVE LEARNED IT IS THAT A HORSE’S HEALTH LYES ALL IN THE CONTITION OF THEIR HOOVES. A HORSE IN ORDER 2 B HEALTHY MUST HAVE HEALTHY HOOVES. DUE 2THE FACT THAT THEY ARE ALMOST ALWAYS ON THEIR FEET,THEIR FEET HAVE 2 B IN GOOD HEALTH AND IN GOOD FUNCTIONING ORDER. I HAVE NEVER SEEN A CONDITION OF THRUSH IN A HORSE’S HOOVES INTIL JUST A BIT AGO WHEN I GOOGLED IT ON MY COMPUTER. IT IS AN UGLY SIGHT TO LOOK AT AND MUST BE SO PAINFUL FOR THE POOR ANIMAL. ANY1 THAT HAS 1 OF THESE REMARKABLE CREATURES IN THEIR CARE AND DOES NOT MAKE PROVISIONS FOR THEIR MAINTANENCE TRUELY DOES NOT DESERVE TO OWN THAT HORSE

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