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How to Heal Hoof Rot in Horses

Updated November 21, 2016

Hoof rot, also known as thrush or foot canker, is an unpleasant bacterial condition affecting the frog of a horse's foot. The condition tends to be more prevalent in the hind feet, and can be painful and cause lameness. It normally responds well to treatment, but if allowed to become chronic it may invade the tissues more deeply and cause necrosis of the foot. Treatment includes changing the conditions within the environment, removing infected tissue, applying localised disinfectant and possibly feeding a hoof supplement to speed recovery.

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  1. Diagnose the condition. Foot rot causes a distinctive, unpleasant odour. The frog will appear spongy, and the lower limbs may be swollen in a number of cases. The horse may be reluctant to pick a foot up for examination, as he will be forced to take greater weight on the other three.

  2. Check the environmental conditions. The bacteria that cause foot rot thrive in damp, dirty conditions, and love dirty stable bedding and muddy fields. Move the horse to a clean, dry environment. You may have to keep the horse stabled on clean bedding until the infection is over.

  3. Stand at the horse's shoulder, with your back to its head. Pick up the first fore foot, and rest it on your bent knees. Use a hoof pick to remove any debris. Use a hoof paring knife to pare away any dead tissue from around the frog area. Start at the base of the frog and cut towards the point until you see healthy tissue.

  4. Scrub the foot out thoroughly with hot water and disinfectant. Allow it to dry before spraying with antibacterial spray. Repeat the process with the other feet. Scrub the feet every day with antibacterial disinfectant until the infection has cleared up.

  5. Feed a hoof supplement to allow the feet to repair themselves more quickly.

  6. Tip

    Prevention is always better than cure with foot rot. Keep your horse in a dry, clean environment and check his feet regularly.


    Take care when paring feet. Make several shallow cuts rather than one deep one, and always cut away from both yourself and the horse's leg. If the condition is not considerably better in a week, consult a veterinarian.

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Things You'll Need

  • Hoof pick
  • Hoof knife
  • Anti-bacterial disinfectant spray
  • Hot water
  • Hoof supplement (optional)
  • Stable
  • Clean bedding

About the Author

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