Monday, June 02, 2008

Canker: Seldom Seen But Important to Recognize

Canker in Hoof, originally uploaded by krissid2001.

I can almost smell this photo right through the computer screen. And it doesn't smell good.

Have you ever seen a horse with hoof canker? I've only seen it a few times, but it certainly made an impact. I know that this is becoming more of a problem in horses in the USA, and people are reporting more cases all the time.

The problem is that many owners don't recognize what it is and rarely contact a veterinarian until it is so advanced that you can see it (and smell it) from across the paddock.

Another problem is that it often strikes draft horses, like this Clydesdale or Shire, so the feathers cover it.

If you see something ugly growing on the bottom of a horse's foot, either in the cleft of the frog or the sulci or in the heel bulbs, don't just assume it is a bad case of thrush that will go away when the pasture dries up or when summer comes. Canker often requires the services of a consulting vet or farrier and horses are sometimes put down because of it. Medications and soaking and diligent cleaning are all on the list of treatments.

Thanks to Krissid2001 for allowing me to blog this photo for you all.


Nick said...

Fran, have you seen the photo on Yahoo of Big Brown's hoof? I was under the impression it was a minor crack but it looks pretty serious to me.


Fran Jurga said...

Hi Nick, thanks for your comment! Yes, I did see that photo, but it is not really showing the crack itself. It is showing the hoof repair material on the heel area, which has a canyon cut into it so air can get to the crack underneath. If that was real hoof wall, it would be horrible! We should have some good photos on Friday to share with everyone before the big race!

Hey, at least Big Brown doesn't have canker!


Nick said...

Thanks for the explanation. Now that I look at it again I can see that you're right. I should have known from the texture and color difference!

And yes, thank goodness it isn't a canker! I hadn't heard of those before either. It's seems like there's always something new to learn!

Heidi Meyer said...

Lack of proper frequent trimming and balance of the hoof (ie: keeping frog active and not allowing too much heal height) is key to keeping this from developing. Draft horses seem to fall into the category of trim less rather than what they need, which is to be trimmed more frequently to stay ahead of their usually very good horn growth. No hoof no horse? I say, No FROG no horse. They weren't meant to be peripherally loaded, so attention to the frog should be the key to hoof health. Thanks for this article