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How do you go about treating an abscess

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  • How do you go about treating an abscess

    I have not had a horse with an abscess in over 10 years. What's standard protocol.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I've always soaked in Epsom salts once or twice a day to first get the abscess to blow, then once a day to keep it all clean after it blows. Then I've used ichthamol or something similar to pack the opening. Then wrap the hoof in a diaper, then wrap the diaper in several layers of duct tape to create a fairly solid bootie to keep it all clean. I've never really had them come off or wear through in under 24-48 hours. I've never really tested them longer than that. I prefer turning the horse out if at all possible. If it is too sore to go out with the herd, I'll do individual turnout.


    • #3
      Soak in warm water and Epsom salts (I use a Davis soaking boot) twice a day for a day or two, keep clean and wrapped (diaper is good) otherwise. Then, I change to just wrapping with animalintex or an espsom salt poultice. After it blows, I'll dry wrap or wrap with animalintex for a day or two, then dry wrap for a few days. I also give bute if/when the horse is sore.
      "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."


      • #4
        Agree with the others with a few modifications. Epsom salt in warm water and betadine soaked to just at the coronet, 20 minutes twice daily. Until it ruptures. Pack the foot with ichthalmol or epsom salt/ betadine soaked rolled cotton. I've been told to avoid diapers if possible.

        After rupture, continue soaking once or twice daily, and pack with anything from sugardine to ichthalmol to furacine to just a squirt of Hetacin K. I'd run it past your vet first to see what they prefer.

        I've used empty 5L fluid bags to soak. I cut holes to lace a length of gauze through the top and secure it around the leg after it's filled. I wrap the leg with a polo first so as not to cord it. Horse can move around a bit, you can even do it in the stall. I don't suggest using the fluid bag-tied-to-the-leg if the horse is skittish or you plan on leaving him unattended in Xties.


        • #5
          patience and time
          "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


          • #6
            Don't soak the foot. It weakens the hoof wall and allows dirt and bacteria to enter the abscess cavity. [as per my vet]
            Use a disposable diaper, some duct tape, some animalintex poultice sheets and some hand warmers or those neck and shoulder pads. Alternatively, epsom salts and glycerine to make a paste to slather on the affected area.
            Clean foot, apply poultice or epsom salt mash to area, apply heat source, apply diaper, wrap with duct tape over whole of foot, and boot if a big enough one is available that won't spook horse. Change at least daily until burst and all draining has ceased.
            If the horse hasn't had a tetanus shot recently, a booster may be a good idea.
            Good Luck!


            • #7
              The couple I've had this last year I haven't been able to find by digging around. So I use the green salt goop (that stuff smells great, but yuck!) on the entire foot, gauze pad, vetrap and leave on for a day or two. I've been lucky with that taking a three legged horse to ripping around bucking the next day. Good stuff.


              • #8
                I rarely soak. Poultice is the best way, IME. I use the animalintex pads, wrapped up with diaper/vet wrap/duct tape. Or other poultices are Epsom salt/iodine mix, magnapaste, ichthammol, ... Strangest one suggested to me but not tried was to use sauerkraut! I will usually let horse be out and moving around, wrapped, if he is comfortable enough to do so. Farrier often comes to pull shoe if necessary and might open tract if found, but usually prefers to let it find its own way out. Vet only if farrier can't come or I'm not sure it is abscess.

                The only time I soak is if wrap comes off after the abscess has opened, and I need to get it cleaned out. I've found the wrap poultice is more effective and horse and I happier doing it.


                • #9
                  I really liked the green Epsom salt poultice. Spread that over the foot and diper. My farrier has also recommended sugar-dine for some horses.


                  • #10
                    I agree with the others who say don't soak. Remove shoe, and use animalintex poultice with thermacare heat pads. Use a diaper and then wrap with duct tape. I have also used magic cushion instead of the animalintex poultice pads. You do want to turn out if you can, the more they move the better. I use gorilla duct tape which is more expensive but it really does stay on for turnout.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you all!

                      The abscess has just burst.

                      Would you get the vet to come clean it up or soak wrap?


                      • Original Poster

                        It came out the coronary band, does that suggest a vet call.


                        • #13
                          I don't soak. I put on a slurry of glycerin, epsom salts and betadine, pack with either maxi pads or diapers, and change twice a day if I can. Hand-walk the horse if it's not too uncomfortable to do so, and wait. If no relief within 1-2 days I'll ask my farrier to come and help check things out.
                          Click here before you buy.


                          • #14
                            At this point in time I'd grab some icthammol and slather it on so that wound stays open and draining.
                            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Fharoah View Post
                              It came out the coronary band, does that suggest a vet call.
                              No. Its already vented and there really isn't anything for him/her to do. If there is long hair covering the vent, clip it back. If its still draining, keep the horse out of the mud, muck and mire. Keep the area as clean as possible but you should not wrap it or soak it anymore.


                              • #16
                                Once it comes out the coronet, leave it unwrapped and just keep it clean.


                                • #17
                                  There is no "standard protocol" for horse owners to proficiently treat an abscess.

                                  Most of the time an untreated abscess will burst out of the coronary band eventually. An untreated abscess may burst quickly or may take days or weeks. Therefore, soaking the foot to encourage the abscess to burst out the coronary band is NOT a "treatment," because the evidence is exactly the same as it is for doing nothing.

                                  EFFECTIVE TREATMENT is proactive, immediately relieves suffering, minimizes damage to internal structures, and promotes rapid recovery.

                                  Treatment involves accurately locating the abscess and establishing LOCAL drainage at or as close as possible to the wall/sole junction with as small an opening as possible, then providing some form of protection that allows the drain hole to be medicated. The procedure requires an experienced, competent practitioner. The procedure may be performed by a veterinarian or a farrier.

                                  A competent farrier is more skilled at handling feet and proficient with complex procedures involving the hoof horn. A veterinarian has the medical knowledge, diagnostic skills and can use radiography to assess the extent of internal damage and a medical history regarding the condition of the horse's immune system.

                                  When a horse has a compromised immune system due to a metabolic disorder or other factors like chronic lyme disease an abscess may infect the distal phalanx and left untreated may be fatal to the horse.

                                  IMO if there is to be a standard for horse owners regarding an abscess it should involve contacting both your veterinarian and farrier and having them assess the situation together as a team.


                                  • #18
                                    One other thing I didn't see mentioned is to booster tetanus if it has been awhile (>6 months) since last given. Any open wound like that, especially being down near the ground, reminds me to check on this and get it done if needed.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks guys!

                                      The horse is sound now but the there is still a wound where the abscess popped. How long do these wounds typically take to heal?


                                      • #20
                                        Assuming no complications it will grow down the hoof wall and eventually be trimmed away at the bottom. Over time it will look like a horizontal cut growing down the wall. After new wall is growing in above the 'cut" it wouldn't hurt to put a few drops of iodine or Durasole in the cut occasionally to keep stuff from growing in there.