A few days later, she was completely lame, quite suddenly unable to put weight on her right hind. I ran for the Epsom salts and soaking tub (I use a large feed dish.) Making the water as warm as I thought she could handle, I carefully lowered her hoof and she was an angel. Twenty minutes twice a day, a nice stack of hay in front of her, soothing words from me.
What I was hoping for, was that an abscess would blow somewhere and begin to drain, thereby releasing the pressure in her hoof and easing the pain. No such luck! After two days, she was no better, so I called the farrier. What luck that he was able to come the next day!
He tested her hoof with hoof testers to see if he could find the location of the abscess but had to make an educated guess, as Dee was being pretty stoic. So he cut a big notch in her toe and a drainage hole in the white line area. My heart sunk as I saw blood - but thank goodness Deenah recently had a Tetanus shot.
She didn't indicate any relief and even though I don't have a great deal of experience with hoof abscesses, I know that donkeys can continue to limp for awhile. I was just praying that the farrier had found the right location and the pus would drain.
My job now was to continue to soak her hoof and to warp it to keep it clean. It has continued to rain here, so I want to make sure that mud doesn't pack in to the notch or drainage hole.
Wrapping a hoof is both an art and a science! Here are a few things to consider:
- Use lots of Epsom salts - this helps the infection to draw out, but also a little salt will soften the hoof, a lot will do the opposite. I don't measure, but I am generous.
- The dry the foot with a clean rag before you wrap!
- Have ALL of your wrapping materials ready, strips of tape cut, vet wrap cut, poultice ready (I used Animalintex for the first few days and you need to cut off a suitable piece and soak it gently in water before use) There's nothing worse than trying to balance a donkey's foot and wrestle with sticky tape at the same time! I had everything laid out on a tray beside me.
- I also supported Dee's leg on my bent knee while I wrapped to lessen any discomfort.
- After drying her foot, I applied the poultice which already had 2 strips of tape attached. Then I used a strip of Vetwrap and wound it carefully over the poultice and around the hoof, being careful to minimize any lumps, as she was going to be walking on it. A few strips of duct tape, both to hold the Vetwrap in place and also to create a waterproof toe and sole area. and she was ready to go.
- Remove the "boot" again in the evening - re-soak and re-wrap. Stop soaking as soon as the donkey stops limping! In Deenah's case this was in about 2 days.
- Once you stop soaking, though the hoof needs air - you can cause more harm than good by keeping it wrapped. But I still need to make sure her foot stays free of debris, so the first day after I stopped soaking, I unwrapped her hoof for the night. The next morning, I cleaned it carefully, (with warm water, then dried) applied some Tea tree Oil mixed with Calendula tincture and wrapped it up for the day - I just used a piece of gauze, Vetwrap and duct tape - no poultice.
Abscesses: Helpful in later stages of an abscess. Hepar sulphur given at this time will often cause the abscess to come to a head and drain. http://www.elixirs.com/products.cfm?productcode=s69followed by Infection Drops from Riva's Remedies. These are for internal use. The external applications of Tea Tree Oil are also from Riva's Remedies, called Thrush Plus but I have run out so am now mixing my own concoction.
Last night I unwrapped Deenah's foot and did not re-wrap this morning, just cleaned out overnight debris. A full week since she came up totally lame. She is sound now but I will keep an eye on her foot as the ground is still a bit soggy.