Thrush Identification and Treatment

Recently I picked up a new 16'3" Appendix bred big stout gelding. I took one look at this boys feet and new he needed some treatment. He was limping on his front left hoof, when I picked it up, this is what I saw:


The smell was quite significant. It was apparent he had thrush and needed a trim. I asked my vet what to  use. Of course I didn't ask the question until I had used the age-old thrush treatment of bleach and water)- yes yes, I know, bleach kills good and bacteria in the hoof, but I was willing to take that risk, he needed some treatment fast. My vet got back to me and said that I should poor diesel fuel on it. He also said that his bigger concern (which wasn't really that big) was the length of his hoof, not the thrush. The reason I point this out is because many people think thrush, no matter how bad, is a huge issue. When in fact it is no more than a yeast infection in the foot. 

But lets start here, what is thrush? How can it be identified, and what are the various treatment options?

Thrush is a very common bacterial infection that occurs on the hoof specifically in the region of the frog . The bacterium involved is Fusobacterium necrophorum, and occurs naturally in the animal's environment — especially in wet, muddy, or unsanitary conditions, such as an unclean stall — and grows best with low oxygen 

Identifying Thrush: The most obvious sign of thrush is usually the odor that occurs when cleaning out the hooves

Some horses are more prone to thrush than others, like those with deep clefts or narrow or contracted heels.

Treatment: The bottom of the hoof should be cleaned with soap and water before applying thrush-treatment product on the frog. Some treatments include: diesel fuel, iodine solution, hoof packing of a combination of sugar and betadine, powdered aspirin, borax, or diluted bleach. For severe thrush or white line disease, I have soaked the hoof in White Lightning with a soaking boot. Trying to soak with a Ziplock bag will not work. Buckets are successful if for short periods of time, and if th ehorse is confined in a very small narrow room/stall, like a cattle chute. Packing with soaked cotton balls is a pretty good option as well, then use gorilla tape or a hoof boot to keep the packing in place.

If you are concerned about any of the treatment options, speak with the horse's veterinarian, to be sure these home remedies are effective and, more importantly, safe for use on horses.