What are the best hoof goops to use and when?
I can’t seem to come up with another word besides “goop” to describe this subject. And I'm talking about medicinal type of "goop" here, not polishes and dressings and fancy twinkle toes type stuff.
Ichthammol is a very common and well known drawing salve - used to draw out inflammation. It’s also a bit reminiscent of asphalt or tar, in my opinion. It works to soften the tissues surrounding an injury and to help relieve and draw out swelling. When it comes to the hoof, it’s appropriate to use for the treatment of an abscess.
Ichthammol is also used for wounds. As you can see, it's pretty goopy.
If you suspect your horse has an abscess, it’s best to consult your Veterinarian. Certainly your Farrier can use his hoof testers to locate a tender spot, but it’s your Veterinarian that needs to be the one to dig into the hoof. Reason? Looking for, and subsequently helping to drain an abscess, involves going into the soft tissues of the hoof, a job for a Veterinarian. These soft tissues involve nerves, blood supply, and other sensitive structures.
Once you have a diagnosis of abscess, you can likely proceed with an ichthammol packing. (Great time to use some diapers and study up on packing hooves!)
Diapers are your hoof packing friend.
Epsom salt paste is another very common poultice product that you can use on the hooves. This is typically a light green color, and it’s base is epsom salts, logically. (Am I giving away my age if I say that I know about epsom salt baths?) Use it for suspected bruises until you can get confirmation from your Veterinarian! It can also be used for sore muscles and joints, but I’ll go ahead and warn you that it will stain your horse's legs a lovely light green. Not easy to get out of horse hair!
You can almost see the salty grains in this epsom salt paste.
You should also know about sugardine, and how it can be used on hooves. You would only be using sugardine under the treatment of a Veterinarian, but it’s still handy to have the ingredients around. You will need sugar and betadine solution, not betadine scrub. Mix to a paste. Tah-dah!
Veterinarians use sugardine as an antimicrobial and osmotic agent when there are open wounds on the hoof. It can be used to treat open cracks, or open tracks made on the outside of the hoof wall after a Veterinary procedure. The sugardine can help protect the exposed laminae.
So, to be absolutely prepared for any hoof situation, you should have all three things on hand. I keep mine in the First Aid kit for handy access.
I should also be very specific when I say that none of these are solutions for thrush. I’ll also add that anything hoof related can be critical, if only to rule out laminitis. Don’t hesitate to call your Veterinarian. Trust me on this one - your Veterinarian would rather make one trip for a false alarm over any number of trips for something more serious.
ps- all three of these concoctions are also a great reason to wear rubber or latex gloves. Icky, sticky, stain inducing goops!