Hoof soaking with caustic household products can cause permanent damage.

Five Rules to Follow to Avoid A Hoof Soaking Disaster!

Although soaking can be an effective way of treating the hoof against disease, there can be serious consequences if done carelessly. Experts have collaborated to recommend five rules that can help you avoid a hoof soaking disaster.

Why Hoof Soaking can be Dangerous –

Submerging the hoof in any liquid for an extended period of time can wash away the natural protective coating provided through transpiration. Over time soaking can weaken the entire hoof structure and leave healthy hoof tissue subject to damage. Since many commercial preparations and harsh household products are caustic, they may work well on surfaces by burning pathogens to death; however, they can also do serious harm to new hoof tissue trying to grow out. Keep in mind that the dictionary definition of caustic is to “burn organic tissue by chemical action”. Damaged cells caused by these chemicals can prevent normal hoof growth, which is an astonishing 3/8″ per month.

Conservative Approach to Soaking –

Hoof infections such as white line disease are difficult to treat because they are so hard to reach. There are many nooks and crannies for pathogens to hide, and you cannot see or easily detect their presence behind the hoof wall. Another issue is that the infection may be a particularly aggressive form of fungus or anaerobic and aerobic bacteria, or any combination of them. How do you kill the broad spectrum of pathogens by soaking them without harming sensitive hoof tissue? How often and how long a time period is it safe to soak? How much soak is required to be effective? How do you prevent waste or spilling of the soak? To find the answers we asked the researchers who study these issues.

During the last three decades there seems to have been a world wide epidemic of white line disease. As a result, many companies are looking at new delivery systems for treating the various hoof diseases and infections. In the case of white line disease, the pathogens that are present are easy to kill if you can find them. The problem is that these pathogens are not in full view in the open. They survive because they are difficult to reach behind the hoof wall. Researchers recognized that soaking the hoof could be a simple and effective way of reaching these infections if it could be done safely. They also recognized that there may be serious consequences if the soaking is done incorrectly or with caustic home remedies that may be harmful to hoof tissue.

It is amazing to hear so many horror stories about horse owners who have inadvertently damaged their horse’s feet by over soaking or by using harsh chemical products, not realizing that safer options do exist. Hoof soaking may have its place, but only if it can be done safely. There are several companies that make hoof soaking products. Commercial preparations are usually tested vigorously for safety and efficacy.  If you decide to try a home remedy first, please be aware of their potential negative consequences.

Five Rules to Avoiding a Hoof Soaking Disaster –

Hoof Soaking is a simple concept for treating deeply rooted infections, yet a risky one. This “shotgun” method is recommended only when other less invasive methods have been tried first. We must never forget that soaking has the potential to cause irreversible cell damage to the hoof if done incorrectly.

Hoof soaking is not an exact science because every situation is different. We asked the experts to share their best recommendations on hoof soaking, but only after you first try more conservative treatments. The rules selected have shown to be safe and effective treatments when most other treatments may have failed. These rules offer you the best chance for success..

Hoof pick removes debris

Rule 1. Clear Debris from Voids.

Use a hoof pick and brush before washing the hoof to clear trapped debris from voids. This helps to open up blocked passageways for your soaking solution to penetrate deep into the hoof capsule and get to the pathogens.

Clean hoof before soaking

Rule 2. Wash Hoof before Soaking.

Thoroughly wash off hard surface dirt with soapy water before each soaking session. This will help prevent contaminating the soaking solution.  Never reuse any soaking solution!

Rule 3. Use Boots Made for Soaking.

Boots made for soaking are usually injection molded in one piece and produced in many sizes. They fit better and use less soaking solution.  Less is better!

Rule 4. Use Commercial Soaking Preparation.

Use only commercially products such as Sav-A-Hoof Multi-Purpose gallon REFILL that is recommended for hoof soaking. Read the labels of products that you may use for soaking to make sure the ingredients are not caustic or harmful to tissue. They should also be effective against both fungus and bacteria. Never use household products for soaking. They can cause irreversible damage the hoof, so it is not worth the risk.

Rule 5. Limit Soaking Time –

Limit soaking contact time to 30 minutes, and no more than twice a day. Stop soaking if the hoof becomes soft and punchy. A longer contact time may be permitted when doing a controlled soak; that is, if the boot has a soaking pad inside which allows just a few ounces of the soaking solution in it to be effective. Correctly sized soaking booths such as the Davis Horse Booth. They only require two to four ounces of solution to be safe and effective.

For more information concerning this article contact: SBS EQUINE, ph 239-354-3361, [email protected], www.sbsequine.com

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