Veterinarians often recommend that owners apply Epsom salt poultices as treatment for their animal's hoof abscesses because the salt draws inflammation from the foot wound. Abscesses occur when foreign matter, fungus or bacteria enter the hoof through the white line -- the area between the sole and hoof wall -- and migrate into the tissue creating an infection, states veterinarian Stephen O'Grady of Northern Virginia Equine in Marshall, Virginia. Joint or ligament inflammation can also be helped using an Epsom salt poultice. Horse owners need to learn how to mix and apply this natural poultice to help their animals heal from these common injuries.
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Things you need
- Epsom salts
- Hot water
- Disposable baby diaper, medium-sized
- Elastic veterinary bandage
- Duct tape
Mix 1 cup of Epsom salts with approximately 1/3 cup of hot water until it makes a thick paste.
Place the salt paste into the middle of the baby diaper and spread it around until it resembles a circle 4 to 5 inches across.
Position the diaper with the paste on the bottom of your horse's hoof, ensuring the paste covers the entire sole including the frog -- the softer V-shaped portion of the sole.
Pull the ends of the diaper around the front and back of the hoof and secure them with the diaper tabs. Do not cover the fetlock joint with the diaper.
Wrap the elastic bandage completely around the hoof to hold the diaper in place. Begin at the hoof toe pulling the material in a complete circle around the outer edge of the hoof. Continue circling the foot, overlapping the bandage as you layer the complete hoof and sole in concentric circles.
Secure the entire bandaged hoof by placing overlapping 6-inch strips of duct tape on the bottom of the hoof. Once the bottom is covered, encircle the edge of the hoof wall with a long strip of duct tape to anchor everything in place.
Change the bandage daily until the abscess or injury heals.
Tips and warnings
- When treating joint or tendon injuries, place the Epsom paste in the diaper on the site of inflammation or swelling and wrap the diaper completely around the leg. Cover the diaper with a length of disposable cotton batting and wrap the batting with the elastic veterinary bandage to hold it in place. Always ensure you wrap a clean leg as the Epsom salts don't work well when mixed with sweat or dirt, recommends Micaela Myers in "Leg and Hoof Care for Horses: A Complete Illustrated Guide."
- Pull your stretch bandage completely from the roll and then rewrap it around the roll before applying it to the poultice. By loosening the bandage material in this way, you reduce the risk of pulling it too tight and cutting off blood flow to the injured leg or hoof.
- Do not place any elastic bandages over the pastern or fetlock joints -- the two joints just above the hoof -- of your horse when bandaging a hoof wound. The elastic in the bandages can tighten if the wrap gets wet and cut off circulation to the joint or foot, write veterinarians Dennis McCurnin and Joanna Bassert in "Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians."
- To keep the bandage dry, wrap the entire hoof in a large plastic bag and secure it to the foot with duct tape.
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- Northern Virginia Equine; Hoof Abscesses; Stephen E. O'Grady, DVM, MRCVS; 2003
- Davie County Large Animal Hospital: Applying a Hoof and Lower Leg Bandage
- "Leg and Hoof Care for Horses: A Complete Illustrated Guide"; Micaela Myers; 2009
- "Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians"; Dennis McCurnin, DVM; 2002