What Exactly Is Thrush & How Do You Treat It?

Thrush

Identify

What is that smell? Equine thrush infection is a condition many of us horse owners battle.  It is described as an infection localized in the soft triangular-shaped “frog” of the hoof, especially the grooves on the sides and middle of the frog called the sulci.  The condition is characterized by a foul odor, a dark colored discharge, soreness of the frog and deformation of the frog’s shape.

Define

A bacterial infection of the soft tissue of the hoof, thrush has been positively identified as being caused by Fusobacterium necrophorum(1). This anaerobic bacteria is a natural part of a healthy horse’s gut flora.  It passes through their system and gets picked up on the hoof.  So, while thrush is encouraged by dark, wet conditions, a case can still occur in the best of circumstances.  Another interesting point, and one that causes some confusion, is that this condition can weaken the soft tissues of the sole and lead to secondary fungal infections.  This progression leads to confusion and debate over whether thrush is caused by fungus or bacteria.

Treat

To treat a nasty case, experts advise you treat it like a wound – keep the area clean and dry as much as possible. The culprit anaerobic bacteria, fusobacterium necrophorum, thrives in wet, dark environments. Being “anaerobic” means this bacteria does not like fresh air. So, picking the hoof out daily is your first step. Then make sure that bedding and footing is as dry as possible. Follow up with a specialized thrush treatment to help knock it out. Because of the nature of this infection, and the possibility of reinfection, it will take persistence to fully treat a case. Don’t give up after a few days – it can take weeks!

Remedy

With a variety of  remedies available at your local farm & feed store, how do you find a remedy that works?  Hooflex® Thrush Remedy has been a staple in stables for over three decades.  Here’s why:

  • Hooflex Thrush Remedy is tough on bacteria and fungi because it is a broad-based antimicrobial.  This means it will help battle the bacteria that causes thrush, but also fungus that can follow.
  • Hooflex Thrush Remedy’s anti-microbial properties remain active for days after application, giving the frog a chance to heal.
  • Our product is specially formulated to avoid killing healthy tissue, and it also contains emollients to help promote healthy tissue. When you kill live cells, you leave room for infection to move into the necrotic tissue left behind.
  • Unlike other, more caustic products or many of the homemade remedies, our formulation does not sting when applied.
  • Hooflex Thrush Remedy does not contain formaldehyde, so it doesn’t dry out the hoof, sole, or frog.
  • Hooflex Thrush Remedy is a clear, non-staining formula. Many products on the market are green or purple.  Now whether colorant is added on purpose or is the color of ingredients, the downside is that the product is messy, may cause stains, and gets everywhere—and we do mean everywhere.
  • Since it’s a liquid, Hooflex Thrush Remedy reaches deep into cracks and crevices of hooves, even hooves with deep sulci.  The fine-tipped squeeze applicator allows you to apply the product directly to problem areas without waste.  Just poke a tiny hole in the end for controlled, economical application.

Though thrush can happen in just about any barn, it can be successfully managed when a comprehensive hoof care plan is implemented. For the best hoof care, schedule regular farrier visits, clean your horses’ hooves often, fight back bacteria and fungus with a proven antimicrobial solution like Hooflex Thrush Remedy, and make sure the paddocks and bedding are as dry as possible.  We’ve put our best foot forward, so to speak, and we think you’ll choose Hooflex Thrush Remedy!

1. NCBI article “Fusobacterium necrophorum, and not Dichelobacter nodosus, is associated with equine hoof thrush.”

 

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