Diagnosis of hoof cancer in horses? For you as a horse owner, this is probably a shock. But in order to take the wind out of the sails of the fear, it should be mentioned at this point that hoof cancer is not cancer in the known sense. On the one hand, no cancer cells are detectable and on the other hand, no metastases are formed. Hoof cancer is therefore not a typical carcinoma. Instead, it is a chronic inflammation of the corium of the hoof that has significant effects on the well-being and health of the horse.
Hoof cancer in horses – what happens when the disease occurs?
The hoof corium typically connects the visible and outer hoof capsule to the coffin bone. At the same time, it forms a protective horn on the surface of the hoof capsule. The inflammation caused by hoof cancer can occur across the board. However, it can also occur in individual areas, such as the frog or in the area of the sole. In the case of hoof cancer, the dermis no longer forms any epithelial cells.
However, these cells are necessary because they become hoof horns in the normal horse’s hoof. The hoof horn increasingly loses strength due to hoof cancer. At the same time, a lot of liquid is secreted, which has a very unpleasant odor. In addition, a greasy coating develops on the diseased area. Instead of the horn, cauliflower-like growths form from the dermis. These growths are extremely sensitive and can bleed at the slightest touch.
If the horse’s hoof cancer also spreads to the wall area, most affected horses will start to become lame. As it progresses, the horn bends outwards near the ground. This is because it is no longer firmly attached to the dermis due to the changes. The hair can sometimes stand up tousled. It is also possible that barks form on the coronet edge. As the course progresses, typical rings of thrush can sometimes appear in the hoof horn. As it progresses, the horn bends outwards near the ground.
This is because it is no longer firmly attached to the dermis due to the changes. The hair can sometimes stand up tousled. It is also possible that barks form on the coronet edge. As the course progresses, typical rings of thrush can sometimes appear in the hoof horn. As it progresses, the horn bends outwards near the ground. This is because it is no longer firmly attached to the dermis due to the changes. The hair can sometimes stand up tousled. It is also possible that barks form on the coronet edge. As the course progresses, typical rings of thrush can sometimes appear in the hoof horn.
How does hoof cancer develop in horses – possible causes
As far as the causes of hoof cancer are concerned, opinions differ greatly. It is speculated that the disease could be an evolution of thrush. Thrush, on the other hand, is caused by an unhygienic and permanently wet subsoil. According to other opinions, thrush cannot be the sole cause of hoof cancer in horses. Still, others see no connection between the two diseases. The latter makes sense when you consider that hoof cancer can also occur in horses that have particularly well-groomed hooves and stand on a dry, clean surface.
Multifactorial causes of hoof cancer
A common assumption is that hoof cancer must have multifactorial causes, with various risk factors triggering the disease. On the one hand, unhygienic and poor husbandry conditions can be responsible. On the other hand, hoof cancer can result from incorrect or insufficient trimming of the hooves. It is also now known that a nutritional deficiency and a weak immune system promote the development of hoof cancer.
Metabolic disorders, toxic impairments, or a lack of minerals could also trigger the serious illness. If you are confronted with the diagnosis of hoof cancer in your horse, it is advisable to take a closer look at the feeding and change it if necessary. Under certain circumstances, nutritional supplements can also be used to improve the horse’s mineral balance. For example, magnesium is important for horses.
From diagnosis to treatment – therapy options for hoof cancer
In most cases, hoof cancer is diagnosed very early, so that adequate treatment can be started early enough. However, it should be mentioned that the symptoms, especially in the early stages, are very similar to the symptoms of other hoof diseases. In order to make a clear diagnosis, a biopsy and a histological examination are usually carried out. But the tissue sample from the biopsy in particular provides the necessary information about pathological changes.
If the diagnosis could be confirmed, close cooperation between the farrier or the hoof orthopedist and the veterinarian is necessary. To prevent the growth from progressing further, therapy must begin very quickly. The first step is to look at the feeding and husbandry conditions. Any nutrient deficiencies are compensated for and the hooves are placed on a clean, dry surface.
If the horse’s hoof cancer is already advanced, the soft horn is scraped off. The horn infiltrated by the cancer is removed with a hoof knife. In most cases, it is necessary to repeat this process several times. In particularly severe cases, it may be advisable to completely remove the overgrown hoof corium. A general anesthetic is used for this.
In all cases, the hoof is cared for after the first treatment with drying and disinfecting substances. A pressure bandage or a cover iron is applied to stimulate the exposed dermis to form a healthy horn. Movement is also very important during the healing phase. This stimulates blood circulation which in turn promotes horn growth. Very close controls by the farrier and the veterinarian are required. In addition, there are regular changes of bandages and intensive hygiene of the affected hoof as well as extended care of the horse.
Read More: What is the Sweet itch in your horse?
FAQs about hoof cancer in horses
How do you recognize hoof cancer in horses?
When hoof cancer disease occurs, the dermis swells and turns white. In addition, a coating forms, which initially remains invisible and then becomes cheesy. The appearance and shape of the dermis of hoof cancer are similar to a cauliflower.
The causes of hoof cancer are believed to be multifactorial. The causes can be a poor and unhygienic attitude, as well as nutritional, undersupply or metabolic diseases, and much more.
How can you feed a horse with hoof cancer?
It is absolutely necessary to provide the horse with high-quality, mold- and dust-free roughage.
Is hoof cancer fatal in horses?
Hoof cancer is not actually cancer. Neither tumors nor metastases are formed. The disease is limited to the internal structures of the hoof. As a rule, it is not fatal and can be treated adequately if diagnosed early.
If hoof cancer is recognized and treated at an early stage, a healthy horn can form after just a few weeks. However, if it is a severe case of hoof cancer, it may be that the disease drags on for many months.