Thrush in horse’s is a hoof condition that is caused by a fungal infection in the hoof. It can cause a great deal of pain and can even permanently damage hooves if it is not prevented or stopped in time.
In this article, we discuss thrush, its prevention and treatment and describe several ways to address it including treating thrush with apple cider vinegar (ACV), home remedies, natural remedies, over-the-counter medications and other homemade thrush treatment for horses. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- 1 Prevention Is The Best Cure For Thrush
- 2 What Is A Good Antifungal Diet For A Horse?
- 3 Hoof Care To Prevent And Treat Thrush
- 4 Best Soaks For Thrushy Hooves
- 5 Best Topical Treatments For After Soaking
- 6 Treating Thrush In Horses With Apple Cider Vinegar
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
Prevention Is The Best Cure For Thrush
You can think of thrush as being somewhat like athlete’s foot in people. It is caused by a type of fungus that is always present and will not get out of control as long as certain conditions are met. They are:
1. A healthy, balanced diet builds a strong immune system. Highly processed foods are hard on the immune system and will interfere with any body’s ability to fight off infections of all kinds.
2. Good hygiene is of the utmost importance in avoiding fungal infections of all kinds. For people to avoid athlete’s foot, they must keep their feet clean and dry and change their socks every day. It is much the same for horses. To prevent your horse from contracting thrush, you should pick out his hooves daily and make sure that he is not standing about in mud or muck. Moisture breeds fungus.
3. Preventative use of antifungal products is helpful. Use of natural dressings and products containing ACV, tea tree oil, antibacterial and antifungal soaps, antifungal salves and athlete’s foot powder are all effective ways of controlling and preventing foot fungus in both people and horses.
Thrush: Signs And Remedies
What Is A Good Antifungal Diet For A Horse?
Avoid giving your horse processed feeds and pellets as these products tend to be starchy and may predispose your horse to problems such as laminitis.
You want to avoid hoof problems altogether as a compromised hoof is more likely to develop thrush.
Provide your horse with a balanced mineral supplement. Avoid giving your horse too much iron.
If you’re providing a mineral block or any sort of red colored salt, such as Himalayan salt, be sure that you also provide white salt and possibly sulfured salt so that your horse has a choice.
Providing too much red colored salt may lead to a buildup in iron and this can predispose your horse to fungal infections.
Keep your horse’s diet as natural as possible. Remember that horses are designed to thrive on grass and hay. Always feed plenty of long stem, natural grass hay and provide good turnout on healthy pasture with good footing.
Talk with your vet to determine exactly how much and what kind of grain your horse should receive.
Be sure to keep your horse’s stall, paddock and turnout area picked up, dry and clean. Dry, solid footing is a must in avoiding fungal infection.
Hoof Care To Prevent And Treat Thrush
Pick out your horse’s hooves every day and examine them for signs of thrush. Look for soft, smelly, rotten looking areas. Pick thrushy areas clean, wash thoroughly and apply appropriate soaks and dressings.
Dawn dishwashing liquid is an excellent cleanser for feet with thrush. After you have picked your horse’s feet out, you can soak your horse’s hooves for a few minutes in a shallow pan of warm water with a tablespoon or so of Dawn dishwashing liquid.
Scrub the hooves thoroughly with a stiff brush. Be sure to scrub deep into any cracks that may have developed. Wash the hooves with clean, running water and dry them thoroughly with a towel. Follow this up with one of these soaks.
Best Soaks For Thrushy Hooves
1. Natural, organic apple cider vinegar can be used both as a preventative soak and as a treatment. Mix one part ACV with two parts of warm water soak your horse’s hooves for 20 minutes to an hour. You can also put this solution into a spray bottle to spray on the soles of healthy hooves as a preventative after picking.
2. Lysol Concentrate is a very powerful antifungal and antibacterial product that can be used to make an effective soaking solution. Read the instructions on the bottle and prepare the strength recommended for cleaning floors. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after soaking for 15-20 minutes.
3. Essential oils such as tea tree oil and oil of oregano have powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties. Essential oils are especially good for use with soaking boots. A teaspoon of essential oil mixed with warm water in a soaking boot is a good, concentrated treatment.
4. Grapefruit seed extract is extremely concentrated and works well against all manner of skin fungus and thrush. Mix it at a rate of about two drops of extract per ounce of warm water. You can use this as a soak or a spray.
5. Clean Trax or White Lightning are veterinary topical medications and are very effective in treating thrush. If you do not have good results with the home remedy and natural suggestions, you may wish to give these medications to try. They are bit more expensive but are very effective. Follow packaging instructions.
Best Topical Treatments For After Soaking
After soaking, dry the hooves again and treat any cracks, abrasions and injuries with the ointment or hoof conditioner of your choice.
To keep your horse’s hooves clean and allow the medications to work, you may wish to wrap the hooves in a dry, clean disposable baby diaper secured with good quality duct tape.
Remember to clean the hooves and change the bandaging daily.
1. Athlete’s foot cream is an effective, affordable and readily available antifungal ointment.
2. Antibiotic cream can be mixed half-and-half with athlete’s foot cream to create an ointment that has been shown to be especially effective when worked into deep cracks and crevices caused by thrush.
3. Vetericyn is a good all around veterinary topical medication. It comes in a spray bottle and can be sprayed directly on affected hoof soles after soaking.
4. Zinc Oxide Ointment is a good ointment to use on the soles of dry, damaged, cracked hooves. Apply it very generously to protect the hoof against contamination and excess moisture. Applying it before application of athlete’s foot powder is a good idea.
5. Athlete’s Foot Powder is very effective for combating hoof fungus and keeping hooves dry.
If your horse is staying in a very damp environment, or if he has developed the habit of standing in his own urine as a way of relieving the pain of thrush, you’ll want to put your horse in hoof boots to help protect the feet from dampness and the ammonia in urine.
When you use hoof boots, it’s a good idea to apply a generous amount of athlete’s foot powder inside the boot.
Use as much as a quarter cup of medicated foot powder to help keep the hooves dry and discourage fungal growth.
Treating Thrush In Horses With Apple Cider Vinegar
A horse with a mild case of thrush may do just fine with only apple cider vinegar soaks; however, some horses are sensitive ACV and may have an allergic reaction when exposed to it.
If your horse has persistent or recurrent thrush, it’s always a good idea to have a full arsenal of possibilities on hand.
Fungal infection tends to become resistant to some treatments, so it’s smart to switch it around a bit from time to time or from one attack to the next.
If your horse has a thrush attack, choose one method of addressing it and stick with that for 3 to 5 days. If you don’t see significant improvement, contact your veterinarian or your farrier.
Identifying And Treating Thrush In Horse
Frequently Asked Questions
If you catch the thrush in time and do not have to pare away a lot of dead tissue, a 50/50 mix of household bleach and water can make an effective soak for thrush. In advanced cases where there is a lot of dead tissue and deep infection, bleach can be harmful and painful. Consult your vet.
A half-and-half mixture of glycerin and household bleach results in a homemade treatment that is similar to White Lighting. It’s not quite as strong, but applied daily to a mild case of thrush, it can be effective.
TIP: If you don’t have or can’t find pure glycerin, you can use Corn Huskers’ Lotion, which is mostly glycerin.
A product called Stockholm Tar is a very popular antiseptic product that can be used on animal wounds as well as thrush. It’s a good product to have on hand. To use it on thrush, you would clean the horse’s hooves thoroughly every day. Dry the hooves and brush the product over the hoof wall, sole and frog of each hoof. This product can also be used as a thrush preventative on a regular, daily basis.
Pine tar is a good, natural antiseptic that can be used on a regular, ongoing basis to maintain good hoof health. It restores moisture to the hoof wall, sole and frog and helps keep hooves pliable. Because of its natural antiseptic properties, it may help prevent thrush, but it isn’t really strong enough to treat thrush.
Iodine (aka: purple spray) has strong antiseptic and antifungal properties. It can be a very good choice for initial treatment of thrush because it can quickly kill off quite a bit of it on the surface. Once the condition has begun to improve, it’s better to transition to milder, more natural treatments because ongoing use of iodine can be damaging to tissues and may slow down the regrowth of the frog.