Hoof abcess, antibiotics yes/no

Discussion in 'Horse Management' started by serendipity, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    Ok so one of the horses in my care has a charming foot abcess which burst out through the heel yesterday. I called my vet and she told me to clean it, apply a poultice (animalintex) and give him a shot of long acting penicillin, all of which I did. He is slightly improved this morning. Changing the poultice every 12 hrs according to instructions on the packet.

    I've since been told by a few people that antibiotics shouldnt be given for foot abcesses. Not knowing any better I went with what the vet told me.

    So what are your thoughts?
  2. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    My boy used to be the Hoof Abscess King! He would get as a minimum 2-3 per year and one time he got 1... then just before that fully healed another... then about a week later another! Did my head in! lol

    He is now much better (dryer paddocks!) and he hasn't had one for about 3 years (touch wood!!)

    Over all those times he was never given antibiotics - just dug out by my (at the time) amazing farrier, poulticed and left to heal, which took about 3 weeks (approx).

    Maybe the fact that it had burst of it's own accord is the reason for the vet recommending antibiotics?

    Oh, and for hoof issues I would never make my vet the first port-of-call... my farrier, along with the majority of farriers, funnily enough, specialises in hooves! :D
  3. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    thanks JJ, I have yet to find an amazing farrier! lol or any farrier at all to be honest, the ones I have called are either not taking new clients as they are too busy, or wont come out once I admit I have a difficult horse (not the one with the foot abcess, the other one is bad for having her feet handled), so at the moment the hunt continues and in the meantime we are working on getting the mare more comfortable with having her feet picked up. Interesting to hear your experience though, gosh I hope this horse doesnt turn into an abcess king :D lol. I would guess not since my paddocks are nice and dry and well drained.

    Interested to hear the thoughts of other people as well
  4. ZaZa

    ZaZa Guest

    Most abscess don't require AB's, just soaking in Epsom salts, poulticing and a little time. :)
    Having said that, I had one recently with an abcess that just simply refused to burst and the horse was in a lot of pain. Without pain meds she couldn't bear any weight on the leg. I spent nearly 2 weeks managing it at home via poulticing etc with the guidance of a vet and a farrier but we were getting nowhere. Eventually I took her in for xrays because there was simply too much infection and there was a serious concern for pedal bone and coffin joint infection. It resulted in a week long stay at the clinic on IV and IM antibiotics and thankfully the mongrel thing finally let go on about the 4th day at the vets.
    Long story short, abscesses are very painful and can cause more problems than the obvious. You're lucky in that yours burst easily and now it can drain and be kept clean. If you're vet suggested the AB's then personally I'd run with their advice. :)
  5. NaeNae87

    NaeNae87 Well-known Member

    I was always told that an abcess will not respond to antibiotics because the tissue around the foreign body causing the infection makes a wall to prevent the spread of the infection.
    This keep everything bad inside the abcess, but also keeps anything good (antibiotics) out.
    They can be treated with antibiotics after they have errupted, but not while the gunk is still in there.
  6. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    Are your horse's feet getting long or out of balance while you wait for farrier? Just that I think this predisposes the hoof to developing abcesses? Could you get your well behaved horse's feet on a farrier's books at least, even if you have to travel him to join an existing group booking?
  7. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    long story blackbat, neither of these horses have had any attention for at least 14 mths including no foot trimming. The boy that has the abcess actually has great feet and his were trimmed last week by a friend who knows how to barefoot trim - she commented that this foot was strange and to keep an eye on it. The other one which is bad for foot handling however doesnt have great feet, long, flared and sand cracks. So she is the one I am more concerned about getting to a trimmer/farrier, however as I said she's so bad for it I havent found anyone willing to do her yet till she has more manners. I have been debating whether to get her sedated and done, but she is improving each day I work with her so hopefully in a week or two she will be well behaved enough for a trim.

    travelling to a group booking, good idea! to be honest I hadnt thought of that! I'd have to hire a float but surely that could be arranged if the farrier could fit me in.
  8. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    Wow serendipity - that is a very, very (did I mention very!) long time between trims! :eek: Most people get them done every 5-6 weeks (give or take a week or so).

    I think you may be a little fortunate to have only had a hoof abscess issue :unsure:
    (PS... I popped over to your 'hello' thread and had another look at your horses and their hooves... they actually don't look too bad at all, from what I can see! :p :bolt:)

    There are quite a few good farriers around and I am sure that if you let us know where in Perth you are we could give you some contact details to try. However, having said that, a quick search of Stockies for 'farrier' will pop up quite a few names and numbers.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  9. blitzen

    blitzen Gold Member

    i just took my mare to the vets today for xrays after dealing with a stubborn abscess for the last 11 days. she was initially poulticed & treated by the vet, who did not give her antibiotics, nor did the vet on subsequent visits.

    today, xrays showed exactly where the problem is and she's had a fair wack of hoof taken off, plus it was drilled to release even more pressure. then dressed with an antibiotic cream now that the whole area is opened up and packed with iodine gauze before being entirely wrapped up.
  10. Troppo

    Troppo Well-known Member

    In my experience - no antibiotics until its has burst, and then you can give antibiotics after to help clear the infection (although its not imperitive).

    If you give Ab's before it bursts you may not get rid of the infection properly as it will sit in the hoof and not look to get out. Just regular poulticing and soaking in epsom salts until it bursts.

    It is not unusual for a horse to go extended periods without hoof care if they have good feet and manage to file them down on their own. I know many horses that are bushed without trims ever in their lives, my mare has at times gone over 6 months without a trim (dinky little brumby feet!). My farrier sometimes checks them and usually says she doesn't need anything.

    Sometimes we forget that not everyone has cotton wool wrapped horses.
  11. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    Good point Troppo - in this case the gelding (who ironically has the abcess) has feet in good nick - we gave them a little trim to tidy them up but on the whole his feet are in good shape.

    The mare on the other hand has feet that are well shaped but overgrown, flared and have sand cracks almost up to the coronet, she really needed to be trimmed a long time ago. She is doing very well on them though, not lame at all.

    Thanks for clearing up about the abs, I'll let the people know who were asking me about it, abs after it bursts but not before
  12. Troppo

    Troppo Well-known Member

    I wish my gelding was like my mare - he has to be reshod regularly - at one stage every 4 weeks as he has crappy flat feet and low heels.

    The most important part in an abscess is the poulticing, I change it every day. Wet poultice before it has burst to help draw the abscess out, and then I usually wet poultice for 2-3days after it has burst and then keep poulticing dry until the hole has closed over. I have only used AB's in one very severe case.

    Everything has to come out. If it doesn't it will reoccur again in a few weeks time.
  13. blitzen

    blitzen Gold Member

    i had several vet visits. first one, she was poulticed & then i had to soak (bandage & all) in warm epsom salts 2-3 times a day. then 2 days later another vet came & removed the initial poultice/bandage, which stunk to high heaven and reapplied another wet one, but i was NOT to poultice it. i removed it myself 3 days later when the farrier came, then reapplied another wet one after, for about 2 days.

    she's since had xrays & her hoof cut out & drilled (by vet) to access the last part of it. i hope we're on top of it now.
  14. JP Red

    JP Red New Member

    Hi there serendipity, if you let me know where abouts you are I could recommend a farrier who I highly doubt would be deterred by an ill mannered horse :) he's also very quick and thorough. Pm me if you're interested :)
  15. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    Thanks JP, I've PMd you
  16. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    She's not really ill mannered as such, just tends to calmly walk away whilst I hold onto her front feet which drives me insane, and if someone is holding her she will get more and more pissed off until she rears and tries to get away with it. I havent attempted the back feet yet.
  17. Claireb

    Claireb Well-known Member


    I don't travel much these days but I am always happy to have people float to me. Difficult horses don't bother me too much we just need to allow more time.

    I am in the Bullsbrook area (weekends only as I work full time)
  18. Lizzy123

    Lizzy123 Guest

    Well Im a nurse for humans but the basic principals apply. Antibiotics are only given when required due to development or resistance. I would be asking for a swab to be taken of the pus to determine bacterial or viral loads. Antibiotics can only be effective if chosen for the spectrum of infection that they cover. If your walking on the ground in dirt and you have an open wound as such ( not sterile) and you have a active infection (pus) with a temp then you should give antibiotics.

    The hoof is different from skin tissue wounds. Most wounds granulate scar and heal. The hoof on the other hand can build up pressure (pus) and the main aim is to remove a build up of pus in the hoof. Excess pressure to the vulnerable tissue in the hoof can cause altered blood supply and tissue / nerve loss. If in doubt get a second opinion just like you would for yourself.

    Basic signs of deterioration that need immediate attention is cellulitis , swelling in the tissues that track up the leg and does not subside with a temp, going off food and of coarse increase in lameness is obvious. Complications include osteomeylitis ( infection of the bone that can only be diagnosed by x ray and is very serious and most certainly need antibiotics). Good luck and its not easy to sit back when you think something else should be done.
  19. Troppo

    Troppo Well-known Member

    eeeewwww LOL Yes I would imagine it would have stunk! Thats why I change the poultice everyday and dry poultice as it gets older as you will find the foot is getting very soft and I feel the hole needs to dry out a bit to start to heal over properly. But leaving it open and exposed runs the risk of something getting into the hole which will cause another abcess once it has closed over.
  20. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    just thought I would update this in case anyone is interested

    after a week of poulticing with slight improvement, the hole closed up and the pressure began building again, and he got a LOT worse, FAST. not weight bearing at all.

    had the vet out and she said it was in a bad spot and she couldnt lance it, put him on a truckload of penicillin and gentamycin to see if that would clear it up before we went to the next step of x rays and surgery.

    happy to report 8 days of antibiotics and soaking/poulticing, he has been given the green light to come off the antibiotics and see how he goes. if he relapses we will extend the antibiotics for another week.

    we are still soaking/poulticing, but he is weight bearing and shown great improvement.

    he's definitely feeling a lot better. amazes me that it can take me ten minutes to catch a three legged horse. clever bugger just spins round really fast on his back legs

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