Thrush is a VERY smelly issue in equine hooves. The bacterium responsible? Fusobacterium necrophorum
The most obvious sign of thrush is usually the smell that occurs when picking out the hoof. Additionally, the affected areas will be black in colour (even on a dark coloured hoof). Easily breaking or crumbling when scraped with a hoof knife. When examining the hooves around thrush areas, the differences between healthy and infected areas can be easily identified. White/grey tissue is normal healthy frog, dark smelly areas are infected areas.
Invading the frog of the hoof, thrush thrives on dead tissue. Easily identified by its revolting odour, also commonly by a black discharge. Usually found in collateral grooves on either side of the frog, it starts shallow and then works in deeper, rather than superficially. Thriving in anaerobic conditions like a stable or muddy paddock, it also loves wet weather. Horses with deep central sulcus in the frog are also particularly susceptible. Usually it localises in the frog area of the hoof. It is the reason we are told from an early age to clean out our horses feet!
How bad is it really?
Left untreated it can result in permanent damage to the sensitive underlying tissues of the corium. Additionally it can lead to Deep Digital Cushion infection. In the worst case scenario and most severe case it invades the Deep Flexor Tendon right down to the bottom of the coffin bone, resulting in permanent lameness. Thrush can reach sensitive tissue deep in the hoof. By compressing the frog, a pain reaction will indicate a deep thrush invasion.
If caught early enough, thrush is easy to treat. If ignored, it will eat away the frog. Penetrating the sole, it can then migrate into vital hoof structures. Additionally, once the it enters the lower areas of the frog, the issue can be difficult to resolve because most topical treatments can’t reach all the deeper areas. Some people recommend the use of bleach. However, it’s not adviseable to use bleach. In addition to over-drying the hoof and frog, it doesn’t effectively kill the bugs responsible. Also, bleach can cause major damage to sensitive internal structures.
Good Gear Naturals has two products for Thrush treatment. Our Stay Put Cream which has a fine nozzle perfect for deep thrush in central sulcus and beneath the frog.
Additionally our Hoof Clay is also very good for treatment if the infection is in the collateral grooves or on the sole.