Parker County Today June 2017 - Page 89

of thrush. Stabled horses should have their feet cleaned at least once daily. For pastured horses, weekly foot cleaning should be a minimum, and more frequently is preferable. Timely farrier care is also an essential factor in preventing thrush, as it is the farrier who first discovers the traces of early thrush. There are many factors that can predispose a horse to thrush. Individual conformation can play a role as horses with deep, narrow, sulci and/or narrow/contracted heels are more likely to develop thrush because the deeper cavities don’t self-clean with horse movement as well as shallower, wider ones. Water and manure are also factors in the environment that can predispose a horse to thrush. Management practices that keep horses’ daily living areas as dry and manure-free as possible will minimize these risk factors. Frequent stall cleaning, pasture cleaning, and ensuring good pasture drainage will also help prevent horses from developing thrush. In mild to moderate cases of thrush, there is no lameness because the tissue affected is not living. However, as the infection progresses into the deeper tissues, the bacteria begin to involve the sensitive corium and cause pain. If the thrush has gone unnoticed until this point, the first signs might be lameness, increased digital pulses, and even leg swelling up to and above the fetlock. These signs could be caused by a foot abscess or other inflammatory conditions, but the possibility of thrush should always be explored. One of the most important aspects of treating thrush is having as much infected tissue trimmed away as possible by your veterinarian or farrier. No anti-bacterial will work in an environment contaminated with organic material and dead tissue. In addition, opening up the areas will allow greater penetration of air/oxygen. Many of the bacteria responsible for these infections require a low-oxygen environment, so providing air circulation is an important part of treatment. After debridement of the foot, one of the products for treating thrush should be used, strictly following directions. Your veterinarian should guide you on this choice, as some chemicals might be too harsh for your particular case and actually cause damage. It’s tough to evaluate when treatment is working. Thrush doesn’t clear up instantly. The best indicator of improvement is the disappearance of the characteristic stench and black discharge. It is recommended to treat thrush with chemicals for no longer than seven days, then have your veterinarian re-evaluate the foot after a one or two-day treatment break. The more invasive the infection, the more invasive the treatment will need to be. For most routine cases, systemic antibiotics are not indicated and would be of little clinical value. In more advanced cases of thrush, your veterinarian might recommend soaking the foot in various medicated solutions. Take care to avoid excessive contact of the coronary band with these medications/soaks, as they can irritate the skin. In addition, packing the sulci with medicated cotton and covering them with a bandage is necessary for more advanced cases. This will keep some medication in contact with the affected tissue and keep the foot clean between treatments. Care must be taken not to apply any treatment that could irritate the skin in the heel bulb area. • Small 8283 FM 920 • Weatherford, Texas • 817-458-3355 Animal • Equine • Livestock • Ambulatory Services 87