Thrush

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Thrush

Thrush is a common bacterial infection of the horse's hoof, specifically the frog. The bacterial organism responsible for causing the infection, Fusobacterium necrophorum, is found commonly in mud and dirty, unsanitary conditions. Horses become infected with the organism by standing for long periods of time in such environments. It will actively gravitate towards the horse's frog because it prefers to live in environments with low-oxygen, such as what the clefts in the horse's frog provides.

Thrush is characterized by the presence of foul smelling black material within the sulci of the frog. The frog surface is often white and crumbly. Thrush is often over diagnosed in horses, especially by horse owners, as the early stages of canker often greatly resemble clinical signs seen in horses with thrush. If any bleeding is observed with manipulation of any of the tissues, lesions extend outside of the frog area, or the horse is not responding to thrush treatment, it is usually indicative of canker.

Symptoms

Foul-smelling black or gray hoof material
Area will easily break and crumble when scraped with hoof pick
Pain if underlying structure damage
50%
Lameness
40%

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Culture

Support

Therapies

TherapiesDetails
Environmental modificationsHorses should be moved to a dry, clean environment and housed in stalls with at least 3 inches of fresh, quality bedding that is cleaned daily.
Balanced trimconducted by a certified farrier in order to remove the necrotic tissue
CleansingHorse's feet should be picked out daily, and scrubbed with dilute iodine solution or commercial thrush-treatment product
Hoof packingUsing a mixture of sugar and betadine
Surgical debridementMay be necessary in severe cases, alongside aggressive therapy.

Prevention

  • Regular hoof trimming by a certified farrier every 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Picking out the horses feet on a daily basis, especially after being turned out in mud conditions.
  • Providing horses with at least 3 inches of clean, quality bedding while in stalls, which is picked out daily.
  • Minimizing mud and water accumulation in pastures, by improving footing and drainage.

Prognosis

Usually good once treatment begins

Scientific Research

General Overviews

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Risk Factors

  • Horses with narrow or contracted heels
  • Not providing enough bedding for horses to stand on in stalls and/or not regularly picking out soiled stalls.
  • Excessive muddy conditions such as paddock with poor drainage, excessive rainfall, and/or flooding.
  • Horses that are shod with full pads or snow pads

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