Ann Ramsey, B.S. Animal Science
What is Thrush? Thrush is a combination of anaerobic bacteria and a fungal yeast infection. Thrush in horses usually begins as an internal yeast infection. Horses can develop internal yeast infections due to elevated blood sugar levels. That’s why it is just as important to consider the horse’s nutrition when beginning to treat thrush. The yeast infection inside the hoof eats away at the keratin, weakening it. Once the hoof keratin becomes degraded and porous, anaerobic bacteria from urine and manure enter the foot. So if you see thrush on the outside of the hoof, you know there is an infection on the inside.
How do I get rid of Thrush? Soaking the hooves is the most effective way to eradicate thrush. Designed to be gentle and effective, soaking penetrates the hoof where the infection lies. Thrush Buster, Bleach, Iodine, Betadine, and Coppertox may over-dry the hoof and frog which can make thrush harder to cure. The best defense against recurring infections is a proper diet, and a thick calloused frog and sole plane.
Why can’t the Trimmer just cut out the infection? Routinely cutting away at the frog only weakens it and makes it more vulnerable to infection, although flaps and shedding frog should be removed to allow the hoof to be medicated.
Lysol Soaking: Read the directions on the Lysol bottle and use the dilution suggested for cleaning floors: 2oz (4 table spoons) per gallon H2O. DO NOT apply undiluted. Soak hooves for 20-30mins minutes a day for 4 to 5 days, repeating if the thrush returns. For a topical treatment, mix a solution that is twice as strong as the recommended dilution for floor cleaning, and apply to the thoroughly cleaned foot once or twice a day.
Epsom Salt Soak: For drying out abscesses; Dilution: 1 cup Epson Salts: 1 Gallon of water. Soak 20-30mins
Athlete’s Foot Cream and Triple Antibiotic (Neosporin): Soaking should be followed by application of these creams mixed together 50/50. These are simple, inexpensive, over the counter creams. Apply the mixture in the collateral grooves (either side of the frog) and central sulcus (middle of the frog).
Diet: Horses need to be fed less NSC, or Non Structural Carbohydrates. Many types of hay may already contain too many simple sugars. Feeding molasses, oats, grain, sugar cubes, and even some balanced concentrates on top of this hay could make your horse sick. Colic, ulcers, weight loss, poor coat and hoof condition, Laminitis and Founder can be the result of over feeding NSC. Many pasture grasses are also too high in NSC. A good guideline is to feed your horse Grass Hay that has around 10% NSC or less. Contact your Veterinarian with questions about your horse’s specific dietary needs.
Ann Ramsey B.S. Animal Science-2011