White Line Disease in Horses

June 22, 2009 (published)

If you have horses, you may be familiar with the term white line disease but may not know a lot about the condition. White line disease is really not a disease and the white line is actually not a structure but a space involving the junction of the hoof wall and the sole. But even though the name is not correct, we continue to refer to it as the white line and white line disease. The condition is characterized by separation of the hoof wall from the solar area and the tissue under the hoof wall. The area of separation under the hoof wall is open and many organisms have been incriminated in causing the disease.

There are many products on the market that claim to cure white line disease by killing the infection. Unfortunately, none of these products will work without treating the real problem, which is instability of the hoof wall and separation. X-rays are required to determine the extent of the separation and then your veterinarian can resect or remove the damaged hoof wall because without hoof wall removal, the hoof will not heal. The affected hoof wall can be removed with a Dremel or cast cutter but it all must be removed back to normal tissue. Once the hoof wall is removed, almost any medication can be applied to help the hoof wall heal. To help stabilize it, the horse is required to wear a special shoe until the hoof wall grows out. I have had clients that bring in horses they have been treating with months for white line disease by using some of these topical products and the horse is still lame. These horses cannot be treated correctly without having your vet x-ray the foot and remove the affected hoof wall, so if you or your farrier believe your horse has white line disease, call your vet for x-rays of the area and treatment.

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