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Comparison Review: Thrush Treatment

If you own or care for horses, you’re likely familiar with the black, smelly bacterial infection that is, unfortunately, oh-so-common among horses: thrush. It’s gross, it smells and it’s not good for your horse’s hoof health.

After spending numerous days — and sometimes weeks — lamenting over the presence of thrush in three different horses, discussing the best solutions with farriers and vets, reading reviews, delving into the vortex that is internet discussion forums and testing thrush treatments on three different horses over a period of time (until the thrush was resolved, really), we recommend Thrushbuster for treatment of the presence of common thrush.

Thrushbuster is easy to apply and its distinctive color lets you know if you’ve applied it to the affected area of the hoof. The squeeze bottle is shaped so that getting the liquid to come out is easy enough while bent over and juggling a horse’s hoof, a bottle and any other assorted items you may be dealing with while considering how to get rid of the stinky infection. The bottle is also small enough to fit in a tack tote or locker without taking up much space, which means it’s a good remedy to have when you’re traveling to and from shows. In two out of the three horses, it proved effective for killing thrush when used according to the package directions; the third horse showed marked improvement, but required more extensive measures.

Application: Liquid — squeeze directly onto affected areas once and then weekly to prevent further occurrences
Ingredients: Water, Isopropanal, Formalin, P.V.P. Iodine Complex, Gentian Violet
Price per 2 oz bottle (at time of publication): $12.50

If you are dealing with an extremely stubborn case of thrush, you may need something with a little more oomph than a typical thrush treatment. The third horse in our panel was one such case, so for her we used White Lightening. This product has proven highly effective against more than thrush; it also works on white line disease and hoof rot. Although it certainly does the trick, be forewarned: it’s a slightly harsher treatment since you have to mix it with white vinegar in order to create chlorine dioxide, which is what gets rid of the bacteria in the hoof. Also, if your horse doesn’t stand well in a boot or soaking bin, this may not be the treatment for you as it does need to soak on the foot for 30 – 40 minutes for the best effect. That said, it does work.

Application: Liquid — mix with vinegar and soak foot
Ingredients: Water, Sodium Chlorite
Price per 8 oz bottle (at time of publication): $14.50

One of the products that we liked because it didn’t involve liquid — which meant no dark purple stains on our hands or similar messes — was No Thrush. This dry formula is easy and convenient to apply and, like Thrushbuster, it’s small and is convenient in a tack tote or locker. What’s especially great about this product is that if you are showing and you’re worried about the treatment being visible on your horse’s hooves, this one isn’t. It’s a powder that is applied directly to the frog, clefts and sole of the horse’s foot. It can also be used on rain rot and other skin issues. We were especially pleased with the product during the cold winter months when liquids and soaking horses’ hooves become problematic. We found that multiple applications were necessary to get rid of the thrush in our horses’ feet.

Application: Powder — dust directly onto affected areas once a day
Ingredients: Non-Caustic Natural Clays,Salts of Copper, Iron, Oregano Powder and Diatomaceous Earth
Price per 2.5 oz bottle (at time of publication): $16.95

We also tried Hooflex Thrush Remedy by Absorbine. What we liked about this product is that although it is a liquid, it is more viscous and goes on like a gel. As a result, the mess is minimal. Since it is clear, there’s no staining of hooves, hands, clothes, barn floors or anything else that you may come into contact with while using the product. It’s convenient to store and can be applied directly to the foot without worrying about soaking or any other major prep work. On the three horses on which it was used, we saw improvement or a complete removal of thrush when used regularly. It’s gentler than the more caustic treatments, but does take a bit longer to be effective.

Application: Liquid — squeeze directly onto affected areas whenever your groom
Active Ingredients: Cloroxylenol, Aluminum Clorhydroxy Allantoinate
Price per 12 oz bottle (at time of publication): $14.11


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