A hoof abscess not only can be incredibly painful but damage hoof structure and spread infection to the foot itself. Following eruption, whether on its own or via the assistance of a vet, applying a poultice will help keep the injury clean and infection-free.
What Is a Poultice?
A wet poultice is a mass of soft material moistened with medicinal ingredients and secured to a hoof abscess. A poultice prevents reinfection by keeping the abscess moist and open so that drainage can occur. You should not leave a wet poultice on a horse for too long.
A dry poultice keeps the abscess area clean and dry until the infection has been eliminated.
Choosing Poultice Ingredients
How to poultice a horse hoof begins with choosing the ingredients it will contain. Bentonite clay has powerful absorbing properties. When moistened, bentonite clay expands and becomes a sponge for toxins. This clay also adheres well to the hoof surface, ensuring that the abscessed area remains completely covered.
Steps for Applying a Hoof Poultice
- Clean and dry the area. Before applying any poultice, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Then, clean and dry the entire foot with a hook pick and saline solution, which can be made by dissolving one level teaspoon salt per pint of boiled and cooled water.1
- Cut padding material. Ensure that pieces of cotton sheet that cover only the size of the abscess are cut, to avoid the hoof becoming waterlogged.
- Make clay paste. Mix clay in a glass bowl with water to create a thick paste.
- Wet padding material. Only clean and boiled water should be used to wet the padding material. Soak padding material and squeeze out excess liquid.
- Fill the frog and apply padding. Next, fill the frog with clay paste, keeping the hoof as flat as possible during this step. Apply cotton padding over the paste.
- Cover. Using a conforming bandage, wrap the hoof and foot, making sure that wrapping is taut but not excessively tight.
- Create a waterproof layer. To prevent moisture from entering the abscess through covering and packing material, place a protective material such as a feed sack, haylage bag, or used IV drip bag over the foot.
- Secure waterproofing. Adhere the waterproof layer to the foot using strips of duct tape.
If much pus is observed, ensure the poultice is changed every eight hours in the first 48 hours of treatment.2 Following this stage, replace the poultice packing every 24 hours or less. A dry poultice may be more effective until the pus amount decreases.
Avoid using wet poultices for more than two to three days at a time. If it hasn’t drained in that time frame, cover the abscess with a dry poultice and call your veterinarian for further instructions.
Equi-Herbs has a passion for horses; that’s why our products contain only high-quality natural ingredients. Visit us online or learn more about our bentonite clay for horses and other all-natural herbal products by calling 1-800-786-0708.