Have you been struggling with treating any of your horses with white line disease? How much success have you had with your efforts?
One of the problems you may have to deal with from time to time is the white line disease and ensuring it doesn’t cause irreparable damages to your horse.
In this article, you will learn more about white line disease, how it affects your horse. Plus effective methods to treat the disease and keep your horse safe.
What Is White Line?
The white line is an area of a horse’s hoof between the outside of the hoof wall of a horse. It is the junction of the horse’s sole and its hoof wall. The term, white line, is a reference to the whitish look of this specific part of the hoof when it has an infection.
When something damages the hoof, the bacteria and/or fungus can now attack the hoof wall and separate its layers. This allows the infection to spread up the wall and around the hoof as fast as possible. The result is usually the eating away at the horse’s hoof. It increases your horse’s risks of becoming lame if it is not promptly treated.
Understanding Horse Hoof Anatomy
To understand the white line disease better, it is important that you know the shape of the hoof of a horse. What does the hoof look like?
The hoof consists of the sole, wall, and frog. When you see a standing horse, the visible part of the hoof is the wall. The wall covers the sides and front of the coffin bone or third phalanx. The wall itself also contains some parts such as the quarters or sides, toe or front, and the heel.
All the components of the hoof are in layers. This includes the hoof horn, hoof wall, and the laminae. The hoof supports the horse’s sole and the larger part of its weight as well. This makes it one of the most important parts of a horse’s body.
The hoof horn lies underneath the hoof wall. The hoof horn connects to the laminae while the laminae itself also connects to the coffin bone or third phalanx.
The coronary band is on top of the hoof and feeds the hoof wall. That is how it feeds it with what it needs to grow, thereby providing it with the necessary nutrition.
The back of the horse’s hoof is the heel, the front is the toe while the sides are the quarters. There is also the digital cushion which is a collection of flexible materials that form a part of the heel.
Another important part of the hoof is the part known as the frog. It is a V-shaped and rubbery tissue that comes out from the middle of the hoof sole to the back. Its primary responsibility is to serve as a shock absorber for the horse. It also helps to facilitate blood circulation to the hoof.
When the horse places its hoof on the ground, the shape of the frog will change and the digital cushion changes too. Also, the pressure increases. These two effects enforce the compression of the veins located in the foot. The action triggers a pumping action that promotes blood circulation to the hoof.
When the horse lifts the hoof off the ground, the action will reverse the compression. It will also transport blood back into the veins. From this, you will realize that the hoof has some parts that work together to make the hoof work well. If any of these parts doesn’t work well, the hoof suffers. By extension, the horse will feel uncomfortable and may fall sick.
How to Treat White line Disease
How do you go about treating your horse if it suffers from white line disease? There are many effective treatments for white line diseases.
Some of them are:
- Use a treatment product that contains ingredients that can fight the microbes that cause the disease. Some examples of such ingredients are tea tree oil and iodine. Such products can stay in wall defects, wall cracks, and other parts of the hoof that the disease affects. Keep them in such places for as long as possible while you are treating the disease.
- If the disease has damaged the hoof, choose a resection treatment that can treat the hoof wall well. Resecting the hoof means that you cut away the hoof or tissues that are suffering from the disease. This will allow such areas to have access to enough oxygen. The extra air will destroy the microbes that are eating the hoof so that the horse will heal faster.
- Another effective solution is corrective trimming. This refers to the removal of anything that causes the hoof wall abnormal stress. After the corrective trimming, debridement the separated hoof wall. If you do this right, there won’t be any need for you to apply an antiseptic treatment.
- You can also treat the disease with some foot formulas that contain chlorine dioxide. While you are using this treatment method, make sure that the horse’s feet are always dry so that it can heal faster.
Before you pick any treatment methods, you may need to know how much damage the disease did to the hoof. This will help you to know the best treatment approach to adopt.
You may have to perform X-ray on the hoof that is suffering from the disease to know what caused the separation and how deep the separation is. When you have completed the examination, your veterinarian may take over by resecting the hoof wall.
It is very important to remove the hoof wall because if you don’t remove it, the horse will not heal fast. But once you remove it, you can use any of the recommended treatment methods to treat it. While you are waiting for the hoof wall to grow out, use a special horseshoe for the horse to make it stable when walking or standing.
It is best to treat the white line disease as soon as you discover it, to stop it from festering and damaging your horse’s hoof. While treating the disease, don’t use caustic chemicals. These harmful chemicals may damage the hoof tissue. If the chemicals damage the healthy tissues, it may be difficult to treat the disease.
You might not achieve much success with a single treatment technique. You may have to combine two or more treatment techniques. Doing this helps you get significant and better results. A great way to start is to open the hoof to oxygen. That will make it easier to treat the disease. If you find it difficult implementing these treatment methods, you may call a veterinarian to help you treat the horse.
White line Disease in Horses
White line disease is a common problem in horses. This usually occurs when the laminae and the hoof wall are not joined together. The separation may happen when the hoof wall goes through too much stress. The stress may also be the result of trimming of the underrun heels or long toe or poor conformation of the foot. The disease may start at the quarters, toes, or the horse’s heel.
This disease is common in horses that are kept in a place and don’t have the opportunity to move around. Horses that live in damp stalls with bad conditions that may be wet today and dry tomorrow can contact this disease. This is because the environment allows yeast, bacteria, or fungi to grow and attack the hoof wall.
White line is sometimes different from one horse to another. The difference may be due to the different type of organisms that cause the disease. For instance, if a very dangerous bacterium and harmful fungus caused the disease, the disease may be very difficult to treat. The disease will be growing very fast as you are trying to treat it.
But if the bacteria and fungus are not very dangerous, they will cause a simple white line disease that you can treat fast.
Sometimes, fungi and bacteria may be living in the hoof. This will cause more damage to the hoof as they continue to grow within it.
Now that it is clear that white line disease may happen when different fungi and bacteria come together. This shows why a treatment that works very well for a horse may not work well for another one suffering from the same problem.
In a horse that is suffering from this disease, the fungi and bacteria live together in the hoof wall and enjoy being together. Although they can live on their own, the microorganisms enjoy the relationship as they enjoy being together.
Each of the organisms contributes to the breakout of the disease in different ways. The fungi may be obtaining its food from the nonliving organic matter in the environment or may be feeding as a harmful parasite on the hoof wall. If the fungi can live in the hoof wall without problems, they can send out hyphae. These are filaments that look like a thread and serve the same purpose as the roots of a plant. The bacterium, on its own, reproduces at an alarming rate. This causes more damage as they increase in number. The fungus may be very difficult to destroy as it has the ability to produce spores that give it such power. This makes it seem that the bacterium cannot die.
Note that treating either the fungus or bacteria alone won’t give you the desired result. If you treat one and leave the other, you may succeed in eliminating one of the problems while the other continues to grow and wreak havoc on the hoof wall. Thus, it is imperative that you adopt an effective treatment option that gets rid of both the fungus and the bacterium.
Causes of White Line Disease
White line disease is not the product of a single organism. However, two different organisms that work together and enjoy each other may cause it. These organisms work together to produce exotoxins and enzymes. These are two powerful substances that combine to break down the collagen and protein in the hoof wall. The microorganisms comprise at least a fungus and a type of harmful bacteria.
Some factors that allow the microorganisms to thrive in the hoof may cause the problem. Such factors include:
- Residing in a very humid or damp environment is a recipe for white line disease. Such an environment is perfect for the microorganism’s growth. As they thrive, they work together on the hoof and they will weaken the hoof to make the horse more vulnerable to the disease.
- If the horse sustains an injury to its hoof. The injured hoof may become a breeding ground for the harmful organisms. As they thrive, they will trigger the disease by taking advantage of the weakness in the hoof.
- Lack of the right nutrition may lead to malnutrition and white line disease.
- If the bedding is dirty or the living quarters are generally dirty, this may cause the problem. It’s common knowledge that bacteria thrive in dirty environments.
- Long toes can cause unnecessary stress in the junction of the hoof sole and the hoof wall.
- If the horse undergoes stress after it had laminitis. Laminitis can cause the laminae to split. Even if the laminitis is not too strong, there may be some small tears in the stratum medium. This may lead to white line disease. Bruising the area can also cause the disease.
These and many other factors are the causes of white line disease. They give the microorganisms the chance to attack the hoof wall and damage it within a short time.
Symptoms of White Line
It is not uncommon to see breeders that are not aware of when their horse developed white line disease. Their ignorance may cost them a great deal as the condition may worsen if you don’t start to treat it as soon as you can.
When your horse exhibits one or a couple of the symptoms listed below, you may check to see if it is suffering from white line:
- If the horse is in an unusual pain, the disease may cause the pain.
- If the foot is too warm without any reason.
- Separation of its hoof wall.
- The areas around the hoof wall have a powder-like substance all over it.
- In severe cases, the horse may become lame.
The horse may show some other symptoms. If your equine shows any sign that you don’t understand, you may check the hoof and see whether it is due to white line disease or something else.
Prevention of White Line Disease
Treatment is a good option, but it is better to find a way to prevent it from happening. It is advisable to do what you can to prevent your equine from suffering from white line disease than to start looking for treatment options when your horse gets attacked.
Additionally, you save time and money when you put preventive measures in place to protect your horse.
Below are some effective techniques to protect your horse from the dangerous white line disease. These are:
- Nail holes, cracks, fissures, and the likes are pathways of infection. Seal these openings with a high-quality sealant.
- Make sure you take care of the hoof always. Trim and clean the hoof always. Remove everything that allows the microorganisms to live and grow.
- Since this disease is common in a damp and dirty environment, try to keep your horses in an environment that is clean and not wet.
One of the best ways to keep your horse in great shape is preventing them from getting infected by some dangerous diseases such as the white line. It is almost impossible to have a 100% record. If you find out your horse is battling with white line, you should try to fix it immediately before it degenerates. The tips in this article will help you prevent your horse from getting infected by white line, as well as effectively treat the disease. And if you feel it is beyond you, do well to reach out to your veterinarian.