the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Veterinary Medicine - Duct Tape and a Baggie

When I went out to feed the horses this morning, Code Red was limping, keeping his weight off his back foot as much as possible.  This is probably the most common vet problem I see - sudden lameness from an abscess inside the hoof.  Imagine an infection throbbing beneath your toenail, except the nail goes all the way around your toe and the irritated tissue has no way to expand.  That's the pain Code Red was feeling.

My vet came out a few hours later, located the tender spot, and began scraping away layers of hoof on the underside until he exposed a small black spot.  A couple more scrapes and a trickle of blood and pus drained out.  A poultice will soften the hoof and allow the infection to drain over the next three days.  This is as low tech as it gets - the vet slips a plastic baggie over the hoof with the poultice inside.  To protect the bag from breaking, he wraps it in a heavier plastic, then covers that with self-sticking vet wrap (green in the photo.)  To keep it all in place, he wraps it with duct tape, or in this case, the even stronger gorilla tape.   If you look closely at the bottom photo, you can see the top of the baggie sticking up above the wrap.

Code Red has to hobble on this bulbous make-shift boot for the next three days.  He's not going far -  the improvised boot would wear off in a day if we let him walk around the pasture.  He's confined to his stall, which is a bit like confining a toddler to a car seat for a three-day trip.  Neither one likes losing his freedom.  To keep him from going into a mindless horse panic by being left alone while his buddies go outside, I locked Fritz in the next stall.  Now I have two pissed off horses.  To make it worse, Code Red's grain ration is cut in half while he's confined.  It's safe to say he's frustrated.  Over the next three days I'll alternate locking Fritz and Remi inside while the other is free to go, but the fact is, with two horses inside, the third one will hang right by the barn door most of the time, if not inside the barn itself. 

We'll remove the boot on Saturday, and if the foot is sound, we'll apply a smaller boot - more like a footie - that will keep iodine against the bottom of the hoof for a couple days to toughen it up before we finally let Code Red go outside again.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing to me how many horses have had one this season. Lee had one in the fall. I know 3 other people's who have had also.