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No Bute for an abcess?

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  • No Bute for an abcess?

    My sister's gelding came in from turnout very lame today. No swelling at first but a few minutes after coming in she was able to feel some heat and swelling above the fetlock. Trainer looked at it and agreed that it looked like a possible tendon injury. My sister called the vet to see how she should proceed. At first the vet agreed that it was probably a tendon injury and to keep doing what she was doing and bute 1x daily but then came back that it could be an abcess so no bute. (Not sure if she thinks it could be both an abcess and the tendon or what?) Now I have buted for an abcess before and can't figure out why it would be wrong. My sister is concerned because the horse is in pain and is very convinced that it is a tendon injury instead of an abcess since there is heat and swelling visible.

    My sister and I both feel that bute would be helpful for whatever is going on above the fetlock or will at least make the horse more comfortable, and that it wouldn't really harm him anyway if it was an abcess.

    I will probably be calling the vet back tonight when I go down to the barn (she was in surgery when my sister called which is why we're not really clear about the bute thing) but I want to go ahead and bute him because he's so uncomfortable. Does anyone know why the vet would have recommended not buting for an abcess?

  • #2
    Because they've never had a subungual hematoma? (the closest human equivalent of a hoof abscess I can think of, pain-wise)

    There are probably a number of theoretical reasons, but if the horse is in a lot of pain, those are outweighed by the imperative to relieve it. IMO.
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    • #3
      It is quite common for the leg to swell up above an abscess, making it look like the horse must have an injured tendon or cellulitis. If there is no tenderness around the tendons, it is probably just from the abscess.
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      • Original Poster

        #4
        DW: That's kind of what I was thinking. He is in pain and I am feeling that keeping him comfortable is most important at this point, unless bute could be harmful for an abcess.

        Gato, I'm not ruling out the possibility of an abcess, just not really sure why the vet wouldn't want us to bute for it. Good to know though why it could be an abcess instead. I'll see this afternoon how tender his is and see if I can feel any swelling in the hoof.

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        • #5
          I know I've heard this before. Can't recall the reason stated, but am guessing it's along the line of reducing inflammation that is required for the abscess to burst? Which in theory sounds at least semi-plausible, but in fact if there's pressure, there's pain, and since bute doesn't shut DOWN the inflammatory process, and movement is also beneficial to helping an abscess come out, well . . . I'd give the bute, keep the horse from being in misery, and help him out any other way I could with relieving the pressure.
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          • #6
            DW -I'm with you, as is my vet.

            Bute is a non-steriodal ant-inflammatory. Using it helps keep the horse more comfortable, it won't interfere with the resoution of the abscess.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by deltawave View Post
              I know I've heard this before. Can't recall the reason stated, but am guessing it's along the line of reducing inflammation that is required for the abscess to burst? Which in theory sounds at least semi-plausible, but in fact if there's pressure, there's pain, and since bute doesn't shut DOWN the inflammatory process, and movement is also beneficial to helping an abscess come out, well . . . I'd give the bute, keep the horse from being in misery, and help him out any other way I could with relieving the pressure.
              This is the reasoning behind my vet's statement. The concern is that reducing inflammation could reduce the pressure needed for the abcess to burst. In addition, if the vet's going to be out within the next 12 hours, she'd prefer not to have the horse buted because she wants to see what the horse looks like without bute in the system.

              But I agree that if my horse is miserable and I'm going to wait more than 12 hours before seeing a vet I'll bute to relieve the pain.

              In regards to the swelling, I've seen all sorts of odd swelling result from a regular old abcess in the foot. My gelding recently had an abcess in his heel (in hindsight) that sent swelling up the medial side of his leg from fetlock to knee 9(no swelling below the fetlock). There wasn't any heat or a pulse in his foot. The vet and I were convinced it was a check ligament and were surprised by the completely clean looking ultrasound. Within about 48 hours a huge abcess burst out of his heel bulb and he was back to unswollen and sound.

              My point is that an abcess can look like just about anything. With a sudden, severe lameness, my first guess is always abcess. Jingles that that's all it is for your sister's guy!
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              • #8
                Originally posted by PNWjumper View Post
                This is the reasoning behind my vet's statement. The concern is that reducing inflammation could reduce the pressure needed for the abcess to burst.

                I've been told to use bute by one vet, and not to use bute by another. The Not Use bute vet explained he thought the inflammation "walled off" the infection from the rest of the hoof, and it would burst sooner. Without the walling off, the infection could spread more easily and take longer to resolve.

                I do not have an opinion about to bute or not; for me it depends on the horse and the specific circumstances. But I just wanted to put one vet's explanation out there.
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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks for all the responses. It does look like an abcess to me. I went ahead and buted him tonight, I'll let my sister decide what she wants to do with him after that. The biggest problem for this horse is that he does have navicular which does not help his comfort level. I told my sister about all of your responses and I think she is going to hold off on buting if she can, but I guess ultimately it'll be up to him to decide how much he can handle. Thanks again everyone.

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                  • #10
                    This; The concern is that reducing inflammation could reduce the pressure needed for the abcess to burst.
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                    • #11
                      I use the bute for abscesses because I want the horse to be active, which will encourage it to burst.

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                      • #12
                        My vet says no bute for abscesses, and I followed his advice when my mare had one last Fall (after an injury that bruised and abscessed). After a few days of discomfort turning to pain, I decided to bute her. She was so inactive, I didn't think that abscess would ever burst. After two doses and about 16 hours, it popped. Of course, maybe it would have anyway, but I just couldn't watch her suffer any longer, and it made sense to me that walking on it would encourage it to pop.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by hundredacres View Post
                          I use the bute for abscesses because I want the horse to be active, which will encourage it to burst.

                          Yes me too.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by vbunny View Post
                            This; The concern is that reducing inflammation could reduce the pressure needed for the abcess to burst.
                            This could be true to a certian extent but a horse that does not move due pain IMO is worse off........I think movement aids in the abcess rupturing ........I've had a horse with an abcess and my vet says bute to make her comfortable and let nature take its course......24 to 48 hours after bute I usually have a rupture of the abcess. I think movement/pressure helps to work the abcess to the surface. Also a horse that does not weight the sore foot is at a greater risk of laminitis in the opposite foot.

                            Dalemma

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