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A Nail in the Hoof: What Would You Do?

A Nail in the Hoof: What Would You Do?

By Harry Werner

After your horse limps into the barn from turnout, you closely examine his lame leg. When you find the head of a nail protruding from the frog, you carefully place the foot down and plan your next move. Anxious to eliminate the cause of his pain, you grab pliers, yank the nail out of his frog, and sweep the floor clean of it and all other debris that could do more harm. You clean the foot and begin a soak in warm Epsom salts solution as you place a call to your veterinarian.

You have wisely arranged to have a veterinarian examine the wound immediately rather than risk the possible consequences of a delay, ranging from infection to internal structure damage. But during the veterinary exam, while your veterinarian applauds your prompt treatment and reporting of the injury, he suggests you might have taken a slightly different course of action. What might you have done?

Next time, if you know your veterinarian is available to examine the horse immediately, leave the nail in place. This will allow him or her to see the exact location of the wound’s entry site and obtain radiographic visualization of the nail’s location within the hoof capsule.

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