The condition referred to as seedy toe is most commonly a result of hoof wall and sole separation following laminitis, especially when the pedal bone rotates downwards in the hoof as occurs in founder.
The area of the white line at the junction of the sole and hoof wall becomes wider and white, crumbly hoof horn begins to fill the space. This material is colonised by bacterial and fungal growth from the soil, which decays the hoof protein to form a soft ‘seedy’ consistency. This progressively invades deep into the separated laminae in the toe region.
Wet conditions promote the growth of the micro-organisms and eventually the front area of the toe develops a cavity filled with decayed laminae horn.
What can you do to help?
If your horse is lame as a result of severe seedy toe or laminitis, seek advice from a vet or specialist farrier. You can also help by keeping the hoof clean and protected.
Step 1: Thoroughly clean the sole and white line area by scraping with a hoof knife, scrubbing the sole and white line area with a brush and antiseptic solution to clean it as much as possible, then pat dry with a towel.
Step 2: Using the sharp edge of the hoof knife, carefully dig out the decayed white line to form a trough as deep as the seedy area penetrates into the white line area.
In severe cases, your farrier or vet may cut away the front of the hoof to remove the dead laminar tissue and encourage the regrowth of good quality hoof over a 2–3 month period.
Step 3: Irrigate the cleaned white line and cavity with iodine solution and allow it to soak into the underlying seedy tissue. Repeat the iodine flood into the trough around the white line area to ensure that it penetrates to the full depth of the separated area.
Step 4: Pat dry with towelling. Then carefully wipe the area with a tissue soaked in methylated spirits to remove any iodine residue and dry the moisture from the cavity, as well as clean away oils and other contamination. Allow the alcohol to evaporate before proceeding with step 5.
Step 5: To protect the area, apply a bead of clear (translucent) silastic window/bathroom sealant to fill the cavity. Ensure it is level with the wall and sole junction around the toe area. If the front of the hoof wall has been cut away to remove dead tissue, the silastic can be used to fill in the gap.
Step 6: If the hoof wall is broken away or the white line area is weak, a shoe may need to be applied to stabilise the hoof. The silastic can be removed and replaced weekly until the hoof-sole white line area repairs.
- Be aware of the factors that can increase the risk of recurring laminitis and seedy toe. Horse at risk include aged horses, horses being fed a diet high in grain in training, or horses with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) or Cushing’s Disease.
Adapted from Common Hoof Problems from the website www.kohnkesown.com.
Reproduced courtesy of the author, Dr John Kohnke BVSc RDA.