Hoof abscess in the horse

Southern California’s recent rainfall has resulted in a higher number of hoof abscesses in horses, causing acute lameness and frustration for owners. These abscesses can cause moderate to severe toe-touching lameness.

Horses may be more likely to develop a hoof abscess following rainstorms for several reasons:

  1. Moisture – Rain can soften and weaken the hoof wall, making it more susceptible to cracks and tears, which can allow bacteria to enter the hoof and cause an abscess.
  2. Mud – Wet and muddy conditions can trap debris and bacteria in the hoof, increasing the risk of infection.
  3. Bruising – We have fairly rocky ground in southern California. When the horse’s foot is softer from the excessive moisture, that rocky ground can lead to sole bruising. That bruising can develop into an abscess.
  4. Reduced circulation – Cold and wet conditions can constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the hooves and making it more difficult for the horse’s immune system to fight off infection.
  5. Reduced grooming – Wet and muddy conditions can make it more difficult to groom horses properly, leading to a build-up of dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants in the hooves.

Treatment of a hoof abscess in a horse typically involves the following:

  1. Identify the location of the abscess – The first step in treating a hoof abscess is to locate the point of infection. I use hoof testers to localize the area of maximal soreness in the hoof. Feeling for areas of heat and changes in digital pulses can also help direct you to the area of a hoof abscess.
  2. Drain the abscess – Sometimes, by paring in the area of soreness, we can open and drain the abscess. However, more often, the abscess will have to find its way out and this usually occurs along the coronary band.
  3. Soak the hoof – When an abscess cannot be opened, we facilitate drainage by soaking the hoof in water + Epsom salts. It is important to make sure the soaking solution is deep enough that the foot all the way to the pastern can be submerged. Soaking for 20-30 minutes 1-2 times daily is recommended.
  4. Apply a poultice – After the hoof has been soaked, an Epsom-salt based poultice like Magnapaste should be applied. The hoof should then be wrapped (a size 1 disposable baby diaper works well), followed by a boot or duct tape foot bandage to keep the foot dry and out of the mud/muck.

Most hoof abscesses will resolve in 3-5 days, but some may take longer. If you are dealing with a difficult abscess or are unsure if your horse has a hoof abscess, please call or message us to setup an appointment.

Covid-19 Update

I want to provide a quick update regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and current restrictions. We are still seeing patients at this time as veterinarians are considered essential services. We do ask that anyone who is currently sick or ill hold off on routine appointments until healthy.

As we all know, following strict social distancing practices is required to slow the pandemic, so we should follow the CDC recommendations even when at appointments.

Below are a few notes provided by the AVMA regarding the virus.

Thank you

Dr. Clint McKnight

Health officials across the U.S. and all over the world are working hard to combat COVID-19. Veterinary professionals are receiving questions from their clients and their teams, and the AVMA is pleased to be able to provide credible information and resources to assist with responses to those questions.

To ensure the resources we provide you are as accurate and up-to-date as possible in this continuously evolving environment, the AVMA is in regular contact with CDC, FDA, and USDA; other state, national, and international veterinary and public health expert groups; and intergovernmental organizations (such as the WHO and OIE) to learn the latest developments and their potential impacts on veterinarians, patients, and clients.

Here’s some key information about COVID-19:

  • The betacoronavirus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2 (formerly 2019-nCoV).
  • Person-to-person and community spread has been reported in numerous countries, including the United States.
  • Transmission primarily occurs when there is contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus droplets in a cough or sneeze. Transmission via touching a contaminated surface or object (i.e., a fomite) and then touching the mouth, nose, or possibly eyes is also possible, but appears to be a secondary route. Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, door knobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur) because porous, especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch.
  • There are currently no antiviral drugs recommended or licensed by FDA to treat COVID-19, and there is no immunization available.
  •  Cases of COVID-19 and community spread are being reported in most states.
  • The best way to avoid becoming ill is to avoid exposure to the virus. Taking typical preventive actions is key.
  • Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they spread it to other animals, including people.
  • If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would, including walking, feeding, and playing. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with your pet; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys).
  • Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.
  • As always, careful handwashing and other infection control practices can greatly reduce the chance of spreading any disease. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians’ (NASPHV) compendium of standard precautions is a good reference for appropriate infection control in veterinary practices.

Deworming your Horse

Deworming Recommendations

In the recent months I have been asked fairly regularly for my recommendations for deworming. For most horses where their stall or paddock is picked daily, deworming every 3 – 4 months, rotating between medication types works well. These horses are exposed to less intestinal parasites compared to pastured horses, and tend to build up lower levels.

Rotating between Fenbendazole (Panacur, Safe guard), Pyrantel (Strongid), and an Ivermectin + Praziquantal (Equimax, Tapecare Plus, Zymectrin gold) helps reduce the risk of parasite resistance to any one particular medication. For pastured horse, deworming every 2-3 months is more appropriate as they tend to accumulate larger quantities and are exposed to a larger number of intestinal parasities.

Generally I recommend the Ivermectin + Praziquantal in January and July. You can then use either a Fenbendazole or Pyrantel in April and November.  Every other year I recommend the use of a Panacur Power Pac to kill encysted (in the wall of the intestinal system) small strongyles, which the other medications do not kill. These take time to accumulate, so unless you have a horse showing other signs (under weight, diarrhea, poor coat, ect.), every other year is appropriate.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call or e-mail.

Clint McKnight, DVM

Horse Owners Spring Check List

Horse Owners Spring Check List


  • Vaccinations: make sure your horse is up to date. Vaccinations traditionally due in the spring: Eastern Equine Encephalitis/Western Equine Encephalitis, Tetanus and West Nile are given annually.  Influenza and Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumonitis), are administered every 6 months.
  • Exam: Want to get out and enjoy those trails?  Make sure your horse is ready!  Address any health changes with your vet, before they become a problem.
  • Deworming: It is recommended to deworm your horse every three to four months. Check out Dr. McKnight’s recommendations at Deworming Your Horse
  • Equine Emergency Kit: Be prepared; check over your equine emergency kit!  Check medications to make sure they are up to date, replace used products.  Don’t have a kit?  Visit our website for information how to make one!  Emergency Kit
  • Human Trail/Barn Kit: Yes, we need one too!  Unexpected things can and do happen.  Don’t have one?  A small portable kit attaches easily to saddle or fits nicely in a “fanny pack”.
  • Barn and Stall Safety Check: Check enclosures for nails, loose boards, and possible hazards. Check for new plant growth and trim over hanging branches, vines, and pull weeds.

Emergency Kit

Emergencies can happen at any time, here are some of the things you should have on hand.  Keep these items in a container with both your name and horses information, clearly marked on it.  You should also have a small human first aid kit, and consider bringing a small trail kit when you are out ridding away from the barn.


  • Laminated card with owners contact information, primary veterinarian contact information, as well as additional veterinary/hospital contact information in case of emergency.
    Small notebook and pen for taking down information and instructions.


  • Digital Thermometer
  • Latex gloves
  • A pair of bandage scissor
  • Another pair of small sharp scissors
  • Pair of nail clippers, for suture removal
  • Tweezers
  • Hoof pick
  • Duct Tape
  • Flash light
  • A stethoscope


  • Self-sticking bandages such as Vetwrap
  • Medical adhesive tape/ Elasticon
  • Gauze Squares:  3 x 3inches, 5 x 5 inches, and or Maxi pads
  • Gauze roll 4 inch
  • Instant cold pack
  • Polo wrap and quilted cotton wrap
  • A roll of sterile cotton


  • Vaseline for the thermometer
  • Pre-moistened alcohol swabs
  • A bottle of rubbing alcohol
  • Epsom Salts (magnesesium sulfate)
  • A poultice such as Animalintex or Magnapaste
  • Neosporin
  • Alluspray
  • An antiseptic scrub such a Betadine (proidone-iodine) or Nolvasan (chlorhexidine)
  • Bottle of saline solution


  • Bute
  • Banamine Paste
  • Neo-poly-bac eye ointment

Normal Vitals for the Adult Horse:

  •  Temperature:  98.0-100.8 F
  • Heart Rate:  28-44 beats per minute
  • Respiratory Rate:  12-18 breaths per minute

February is National Pet Dental Awareness Month!!!

We are helping to bring awareness to the importance of regular dental care for your horse.  Most owners are aware of the discomfort that sharp enamel points can cause to their horse and the ulcerations that can arise, however, dental disease and abnormal wear can also lead to premature tooth loss, fractured teeth, periodontal disease, and even heart disease.  I recommend a basic oral exam when ever vaccinations are performed to assess tooth wear, eruption, and point development since your horses last dental.  Because the horses tooth erupts through the majority of their life, many greatly benefit from a dental every 1 to 2 years to address sharp points and mild wear imbalances.  Some horses with more significant dental issues, may need to be seen every 6 – 8 months.

Equine dentistry has evolved immensely over the last decade as we continually learn more and more about the structure and function of the horse tooth.  Many significant dental issues can be overlooked or left untreated when a basic hand float without sedation or a speculum is performed.  A complete dental exam involves sedation and the use of a speculum (to hold the mouth open) so all teeth can be assessed individually for dental decay, periodontal disease, fractures, uneven wear, sharp enamel points, and other various abnormalities.  Once the problems are identified, then appropriate dental care can be performed.

We want your horse to be happy, healthy, and live a long life that includes all their teeth.  Regular dental exams can help identify little issues before they become big issues and help ensure your horse has healthy, functional teeth for as long as possible.

If you’re unsure about when the last time your horses teeth we checked, or would like to setup an appointment for a dental exam, we encourage you to call the office at (805) 516-9090 or contact us online.  We are also happy to answer any questions you may have regarding dentistry in the horse and more information can be found HERE.

Top Reasons for Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic Awareness monthHow do I know if my horse needs Chiropractic care?

There are a number of signs or conditions which may signify that your horse would benefit from a chiropractic exam and adjustments.  Not all signs are obvious and often, subtle       changes in spinal mobility lead to significant changes in how your horse performs.

  • Horses showing a decrease in performance, such as short striding, cross-cantering, loss of collection, or refusing to pick-up the lead may have some degree of bio-mechanical dysfunction or restriction of the spine.  Localized muscle soreness may be indications of improper saddle fit, or compensation associated with joint dysfunction.
  • Horses that are recovering from injuries such as tendon/ligament, muscle injuries, trailering accidents, or have more chronic disease such as degenerative joint disease (arthritis) or conformation problems, generally have compensation issues resulting in restrictions of the spine.
  • Performance horses are athletes!  Just like human athletes, horses push their body beyond normal motion.  This places more strain on muscles, tendons, and ligaments often leading to chiropractic restrictions.  In humans, studies have shown that athletes with no injuries performed 10-15% better following chiropractic treatments.
  • As horses age, we can often see different issues arise.  A young horse will generally show chiropractic restrictions associated with growth or introduction to work, while older horses often show restrictions associated with arthritic compensation.

It is important to remember that these are only a few of the many indications that your horse may have spinal restrictions that would benefit from chiropractic care.  If you suspect your horse may benefit from chiropractic care, or if you have questions about chiropractic care, please call as I am always happy discuss your horses case. For more information on chiropractic visit https://www.pacificviewequine.com/chiropractic-care/

Is Your Horse Ready For Show Season?

Ready! Set! Show!

Exam:  Want to win the blue ribbon?  Make sure your horse is ready!  Show fees and travel expenses can all add up, but if your horse isn’t feeling well it will not perform at its best! Address any health changes with your vet, so they don’t hold you and your horse back from success!

Chiropractic Exam:  You feel sore after a work out?  So can your horse!  A chiropractic exam and adjustment can help improve performance!  Plan in advance because after a chiropractic adjustment your horse will need 24 to 48 hours off to allow for those adjustments to set and hold.

Dental Exam:  Dental changes and sharp points can create ulcerations and lacerations on the soft cheek tissue.  This can lead to a horse with a sore mouth becoming resistant to working with a bit.  A dental exam with sedation and a speculum can identify these changes so they can be corrected before they become a bigger problem.

Joint Injections:  Performance horses are athletes!  Just like us, age, work, and performance level lead to changes in the joints.  Inflammatory change and arthritis lead to a decrease in comfort and performance.  We can help reduce joint pain and soreness in those specific joints involved.

Gastrogaurd or Ulcergard:  Studies show approximately 65-70% of horses that show have some degree of gastric ulcers in their stomach.  Ulcergard can help prevent ulcer formation when used ahead of time, and Gastrogard can heal those ulcers that are creating discomfort.

Joint support:  Joint support supplements such as Platinum-CJ, Platinum Ortho-chon-HA, or Cosequin-ASU can help reduce inflammation and promote optimal joint function slowing the progression of arthritis.  Injectible joint support supplements such as Adequan or Legend provide higher levels of very specific medications and can have an even more pronounced effect.

Vaccinations: Each show may have specific vaccination requirements; check to make sure your horse has these in advance and is up to date on its annual vaccinations.  Vaccinations traditionally due in the spring: Eastern Equine Encephalitis/Western Equine Encephalitis, Tetanus and West Nile are given annually.  Influenza and Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumonitis), are administered every 6 months.

Heath Certificate & Coggins:  Showing out of state?  You need a health certificate and Coggins!  A Coggins exam need to be done 10 working day in advance in order to have time for a laboratory to process blood results.  A health certificate is then issued upon receipt of these results.  A Coggins is good for 6-12 months depending on the state and health certificate is good for 30 days.  Each state may have specific requirement, it is best to check these in advance.

Weather Induced Colic!!!

Why do I feel we see more colic symptoms when the weather changes?

Here in Southern California our weather patterns in the winter and spring months are very inconsistent.  One-week daytime temperatures may be 85 degrees, then drop down to 60 degrees the following week.  These, sometimes rapid temperature changes are hard for us to adapt to, and the same can be said for the horse.  Two systems that take a little time to regulate to these changes are the G.I. system, and the thirst center in the brain.

When we go from warm weather down to colder weather in a short period of time, the horse isn’t stimulated to drink quite as much for the first 24-48 hours.  However, the body still requires significant amounts of water for feed utilization, fermentation, and passage through the G.I. system.  If the water intake doesn’t match the water lost during normal daily function, we can see mild dehydration begin.  This in turn can lead to a dryer, firmer manure that can irritate the lining of the G.I. system, and/or move the manure through the intestinal tract at a slower rate.  This is often referred to as a dehydration or impaction colic.  Another complication is that as the feed material is sitting there, fermentation is still occurring which releases gas into the intestinal tract.  Typically, as discomfort increases in the horse, the G.I. motility begins to slow down.  As such, the gas being produced collects rather than be passed, causing more discomfort creating a loop that can be hard to break.

When we go from cooler weather up to hotter weather in a short period of time, similar events happen but often more rapidly as the body is using and losing water even faster.

Can we prevent some of these events?  Absolutely!  We can’t stop all of them, but we can help prevent some of the problems while the horse is adapting to temperature changes.  I often recommend feeding a wheat bran mash or a soaked beat pulp mash to provide beneficial fiber and increased amounts of water into the G.I. system.  We can also provide electrolytes such as salt to the diet to help stimulate the horse to drink more.  Usually 1 tablespoon of regular table salt once or twice daily for a couple days can help significantly.  Think about it this way: After eating a bag of salty potato chips we generally are thirstier.  The horse is not any different.

Another trick is to wet down your horse’s hay.  You don’t need to soak it, but wetting it down helps soften the hay, as well as provide more water in the G.I. system.  This is greatly beneficial when feeding really dry, course hay which we do see more in the winter months.

Also, make sure your horses water buckets are cleaned regularly and have cool, clear, clean water.  If the water in the bucket doesn’t taste good, they will be less likely to drink it.

Despite all of our preventative measures, we inevitably will still see horses’ colic.  As there are many, many different causes to colic (a general term for a belly ache), it is always advisable to call your veterinarian.  Other measures may be needed depending on the cause of the colic signs.  In the case of impaction colic, nasogastric tubing and administering fluids and mineral oil (acts as a lubricant in the G.I. system), and the use of pain relieving medications are often required.  Thankfully, with a few management changes during these changing weather periods, we can reduce the potential of colic significantly.

Clint McKnight, DVM

West Nile Virus Alert!!!

mosquito-pageWest Nile Virus is here!

Unfortunately I have some rather alarming news to pass along.  There has been a horse in Ventura County that has tested positive for West Nile Virus.  As I was not the veterinarian who saw or treated the horse I don’t have any details regarding the horse, the outcome, or its location.  The Ventura County Star is reporting (on 9/3/2015) that it was in “The Fillmore Area” (read the article here) and the horse was unvaccinated but that is all the information that was provided.  I contacted multiple state agencies and it was confirmed that it was in “the east end of the county” but no specific city was provided.

This serves as a reminder for us all regarding the importance and value of an inexpensive vaccination when it comes to protecting you horse.  Current West Nile vaccinations are extremely protective (greater than 99%) and are a true once a year vaccine with little reported vaccination reactions.  Most equine veterinarians and the American Association of Equine Practitioners consider West Nile to be a core vaccination along with tetanus, and Eastern and Western Encephalitis.  That means we recommend all horses be vaccinated yearly.

If you are unsure if your horse has received their vaccination, or if they need it, please feel free to call (805-516-9090) or e-mail us ([email protected]) so we can make sure to get your horse(s) protected.

Birds serve as the main carrier for West Nile Virus, and mosquitoes serve as the vector transmitting the disease to many other species after biting an infected bird.  According to the California West Nile monitoring web site http://www.westnile.ca.gov/ , we have had between 6 and 8 birds test positive and 3 chickens.  There is no data for mosquito populations, humans, or horses for Ventura County as of this writing.  There have been 25 new human cases in the past week for the entire state of California.

Limiting exposure to mosquitoes for both you and your pets is extremely important.  Removal of any standing water that serves as breeding grounds can greatly reduce the population numbers and the use of insect repellants and blankets/netting for your horses can reduce bites.  The state of California provides excellent resources regarding West Nile Virus which can be seen at the following web site Ca.org West Nile FAQ or the AAEP website AAEP.org West Nile information

Please pass this information along.

Thank you,

Clint McKnight, DVM