Hoof health key to total health

HorseHoof_CleaningWe all know how uncomfortable sore feet can be. For animals with hooves (and two more feet than people), sore feet can mean more than just a minor annoyance.

During the summer in particular, the combination of warm weather and rain can lead to softening of hooves, which can then cause more serious problems. For example, when hooves weaken from being too damp, cracks may occur, allowing infection-causing microbes to go deeper into the animal’s foot. Preventing this not only saves an animal from pain and distress, but it also can save the owner’s checkbook (e.g., loss of production, vet bills, etc.).

Prompt treatment of hoof issues is vital. If left untreated, a mild infection can quickly progress into something much more serious.

What to look for:


What to do:

  • Consult a veterinarian. He or she may recommend treating the hoof with a disinfectant spray to combat bacterial and fungal microbes along with other specific treatment.
  • If hooves are too long, it’s time for a trim. Again, check with a veterinarian or a farrier if unfamiliar with how to properly and safely trim hooves.
  • If the animal seems to be unbalanced or is experiencing discomfort, special care may be warranted, including special shoes for horses or a hoof block for a cow. Cow blocks help correct alignment and reduce pressure on hooves that may be bruised, which speeds healing.


For more information on hoof issues in cattle, read Prevention and control of foot problems in dairy cows from Penn State.

For more information on hoof issues in horses, read the Guide to horse hoof problems from the Horse Channel.

See here for Neogen’s hoof care products.

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