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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

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 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Hoof Health & thrush

Dr. Getty:
I recently purchased a Canadian horse. I am new to horses and have two. She is a mare and was used for breeding so I was told. The problem I am having is thrush. I have been using coppertox on her hooves but it does not seem to solve the problem and right now she is limping on her right leg. I have a hard time getting her back feet done cause she simply does not like them being touched. I do the best I can with them. Do you have any suggestions on what to do about the trush and how to ease her stress when getting her back feet done.


Debbie Burns

Where are you from? Nova Scotia

How did you locate this forum? browsing the net

Re: Hoof Health & thrush

Hi Debbie,

Thrush is due to a fungal infection and the good news is – it rarely causes lameness. But, you do want to relieve your horse of this infection and do what you can to prevent a relapse. Thrush usually occurs when a horse stands in his own waste or in wet, muddy conditions that are contaminated with urine and manure. Living conditions are best when they are dry and well drained. But, even in clean conditions, a horse can develop thrush if she has a genetic tendency toward it and/or has her immune system is impaired. We’ll talk more about that in a minute – first, let me give you some ideas on how to cure it.

Just pouring Coppertox or other thrush remedies may not work because the fungus hides in the crevices of the hoof. Instead, use your hoof pick, wrapped in cotton gauze and dipped in Coppertox. Gently go over the frog. If the frog needs some trimming, your farrier is the best person to assist you. This way, you can reach all the small areas that you cannot reach by just pouring the solution on the frog. Keep changing the cotton as it gets soiled and do this treatment daily until the thrush is healed.

If your mare is prone to developing thrush, even in clean conditions, you’ll want to treat her regularly so the thrush does not develop to any large extent. In addition, it is important to boost her immune response. In general, you’ll want to offer a balanced diet that consists of grass and legume hays, a good multiple vitamin/mineral supplement, an additional energy source if she requires more calories (such as beet pulp or a rice bran-based complete feed), plenty of fresh, clean water (heated to 50 degrees in cold weather), a salt lick, and possibly a probiotic (depending on her stress level, age, and overall condition). In some cases, additional supplementation is very helpful. And, a regular worming program is very important.

You likely do most of these things – but just for an overview, it is important to boost her overall health to allow her to fight infections, including thrush.
Hope this is helpful. Please keep me posted on her progress!

All the best,

Dr. Getty

P.S. You asked about easing her stress to do her feet. You can temporarily provide her with a relaxant such as Tryptophane (available in a tube paste in most feed stores). This is an amino acid that increases serotonin levels in the brain, causing a sleepy state. It is not a narcotic.

Dr. G

Re: Hoof Health & thrush

From experience I know that thrush can be aggrivating. If it is not to far into the hoof or soft frog, you can use straight clorox in a spray bottle or soak the hoof in a bucket to kill the fungus. I pick my horse's feet every day and once a week I spray the bottoms of the hooves with clorox. This has been keeping her feet thrush-free.

Where are you from? NC

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