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Identifying and Treating Abscesses in Horses

Abscesses, which are accumulations of pus, can be quite painful for horses. Resulting from an infection, an abscess occurs when the white blood cells assembled to fight off foreign antigens die and become walled off in a capsule. As a result, the area may become inflamed and may ultimately rupture as the pressure builds up and releases the pus.

Identifying and Treating Abscesses in HorsesWhat Causes Abscesses?

Abscesses can be caused from a variety of different types of injuries. They are most commonly associated with penetration wounds, such as nails in the hoof. Infections, including respiratory bacterial infections, can also lead to abscesses. Identifying abscesses is generally simple, though blood tests may need to be performed to ensure the infection is not caused by another condition that needs to be addressed.

How are Abscesses Treated?

Abscesses are typically treated with antibiotics. If it hasn’t been present for long, it may also be appropriate to cleanse it with an antiseptic scrub. While you should never attempt to drain an abscess yourself, your veterinarian may use a poultice to drain the infection. The veterinarian may also take a sample of the pus in order to determine what type of bacteria caused the infection. This information will be used to determine which type of antibiotic to use.

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