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What is seedy toe?

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

Seedy toe is a similar hoof infection to white line disease but is confined to the toe area of the hoof. Seedy toe involves the deterioration and separation of the inner layers of the hoof wall, particularly in the white line region. The white line is the area where the hoof wall meets the sole of the horse's hoof and is formed at the laminal corium. The bacteria candida albicans creates a yeast infection of the inner third of the hoof wall.

The initial cause of seedy toe is often related to external factors such as excessive moisture, poor soil quality or overgrown hooves. When the hoof wall becomes weakened or compromised, it creates an entry point for dirt, debris, and bacteria. As the condition progresses, the affected area may appear discoloured, crumbly, or powdery. The separation between the hoof wall and the underlying structures can create a hollow space, which further accumulates debris and provides a favourable environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive. In some cases, the infection may extend upward into the hoof wall, causing additional damage.

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The toe of the hoof wall becomes weak and filled with mealy and crumbly horn.

There will be a persistent cavity at the toe as a result of separation between the sensitive and non sensitive laminae. This usually occurs as a result of a laminitic episode as the laminae in his region may have become damaged from a haematoma as a result of trauma. The infection can occur in both shod and unshod horses. The separation that develops then makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate the hoof (Fig. 1).

seedy toe  of the horses hoof

Fig. 1 A Case of Seedy toe after the horse developed laminitis.

Seedy toe can cause varying degrees of lameness depending on the severity of the condition and the horse's individual sensitivity. Mild cases may only result in slight discomfort or intermittent lameness, while more severe instances can cause significant lameness.

causes of seedy toe

Regular farriery appointments will prevent the hoof from becoming distorted and white line stretched as this could result in an increase of bacterial penetration. The exposed seedy toe should be treated daily with an anti septic spray such as Bactakil 55 whilst being housed in a clean dry moisture absorbing bedding. Testing of the turnout soil can help to detect any mineral imbalances that may require additional supplementation in the diet to overcome. For example, the use of a Copper mineral salt lick can help to overcome high levels of Iron, an inflammatory mineral.

Although lameness is rarely observed, seedy toe can be a difficult infection to completely clear up due to the breakdown of the laminal interdigitation so therefore the chances of complete recovery are guarded.

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