Hoof canker in horses is a rare but potentially damaging condition that is caused by an infection of the hoof. It often occurs when a horse has been kept in poor conditions. The two clear symptoms of the disease are the foul smell and the significant amount of puss that is produced by the infection. Treatment may involve cutting out the area that is infected. It could also involve medication to kill of the pathogen. But preventative steps should also be taken, involving improving the horse’s environment.
The causal agents of canker in horses are bacterial species and sometimes fungal species. But transmission of the infective microorganisms is aided by the conditions that the horse is kept in. Unhygienic conditions are a particular hazard. If the horse isn’t mucked out often enough, for example, or if their bedding is wet. Hot conditions that cause the horse to sweat a lot can also make infection by some pathogen more likely.
There are two main signs of canker in horses that you should look out for to help diagnose the condition. One of these is the distinctive, foul smell of the infection. The other main symptom is the appearance of large amounts of puss from the infected area of the hoof. Not surprisingly with such an infection the horse will also be rather uncomfortable and may be reluctant to put any weight on the infected hoof. If the infection is allowed to progress internal damage as well as the early external damage is possible.
With this potential for serious damage it is important that treatment for the condition is sought as soon as the signs of it become apparent in the horse’s hoof. One aspect of the treatment could be to remove the infected area of tissue. Another possibility is to provide medication. Antiseptic could be used in the first instance in cleansing the wound. But also the infective agents need to be killed off, once the species is identified using a biopsy. This could involve antibiotics or antifungal medication, as appropriate.
But there are preventative steps that should be implemented as well to try to stop the horse from being infected in this way at all. The hygiene of the stable that the horse is kept in should be improved. The hooves of the animal should be picked out daily and a vet should check them regularly. The temperature level of the stable should also be kept at an acceptable level so that the horse is not sweating heavily and clean and dry bedding should be provided as well.