Sudden severe lameness. What are the signs of a hoof abscess?

I left for work this morning and my 9 year old gelding was moving normally at that time. When I returned home, he was extremely lame, not wanting to place any weight on his Left front foot. After looking him over, I could not find any swelling or heat in the leg. I talked with my veterinarian over the phone, and he explained that it was likely a hoof abscess. Could you discuss hoof abscesses here?

This is a very common scenario…one day the horse is fine, and the next, he is extremely lame with no apparent injury. Without swelling on the limb, and any other marks / wounds, this is most likely a hoof abscess.

Hoof abscesses occur when bacteria make their way into the sensitive portion of the foot, and begin to create pus within the confines of the foot. With no easy way to expand, and the growing amount of pus, the pressure increases, and begins to cause severe pain. The bacteria usually finds its way in with the assistance of moisture, making abscesses much more common during the winter and spring months.

The signs associated with hoof abscesses are usually severe lameness, and often a more distinct or throbbing pulse in the affected foot. There can be pain associated with palpation of the coronary band on the affected foot.
Hoof abscesses are certainly a common issue within our practice, and with proper treatment and care, can resolve quickly. It is certainly a condition that an owner should involve a vet quickly, to prevent any complications and assure that an abscess is the correct diagnosis.

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