What does it look like? What is it? What are the best treatment methods for your horse?

What does it look like?

It came out of the blue! My ever-sound horse was slightly lame…not bobbing head lame but there was definitely something amiss.  We looked at all the usual suspects, hocks..stifle..saddle soreness…knees..nope…all fine, then — we started to remove his shoes…whoa! What’s that white-colored, powdery stuff ?..yes, we were looking at full-blown white line disease.  The farrier inserted a shoeing nail up into his foot, via the white-line area, and met with no resistance (i.e. no hoof tissue)…there was a large cavity in the front of his hoof that only an x-ray could tell us just how large..!…fast forward a few months, and we are back in competition and… winning again!

What causes white line disease?

White line disease (also called Seedy Toe) in horses is caused by fungi, bacteria or a combination of both.

These malicious organisms enter the hoof via an old nail hole, a hoof crack or any other weak point. Once inside the hoof, the infection erodes and eats away the connected layers of tissue (laminae) that support a healthy hoof. The result creates a cavity/void within the interior of the hoof.

For example, let’s take a horse that has a clubby, upright hoof, long toes, hoof imbalances or wall flares. The laminae (internal hoof layers) inside the hoof are continually stretched to the max each time the hoof makes contact with the ground. With the laminae thus persistently stretched, the connective tissue is expanded, thus creating interior hoof weakness. Once the white line disease organisms gain access to the interior of your horse’s hoof, their acts of destruction lead ultimately to a cavity inside the hoof – resulting in slow hoof disintegration.

Why is it called “white line disease”?

This disease generally travels “north” inside the hoof and you cannot see it as you could with a typical infection. The only aspect of white line disease that can be “seen” is a powdery, crumbly off-white residue that is readily apparent at trim time. This powdery matter is the disintegration of the white line area and is the result of internal hoof separation and damage. Hence it would appear that only the white line is damaged but this is just evidence of the deeper infection/problem.

The organisms responsible for white-line disease are anaerobic (i.e., they live in the absence of oxygen), so the interior of a horse hoof is the ideal place for them to thrive and go undetected. Horses are rarely lame until the disease progresses into a more advanced stage. It’s a sneaky disease that, caught in the early stages is quickly and easily treatable. Stopping the progression of the syndrome immediately after its discovery is critical in treating the disease.

Traditional treatment options

First, get an x-ray of the hoof to determine what the damage is, because there is no exact way, visually, to assess the extent of the infection. Valuable time can be wasted addressing what you think is a minor case of white line, only to discover, weeks later, that you have just been treating the tip of the iceberg. And while you have been treating just the tip, the infection has continued to march north inside the hoof, untouched by your treatments.

If it’s a minor case of white line, treatment has traditionally been to dig out the infected area with a small pick, hoof nippers, knife or Dremel-type tool and then treat the area with some form of chemical.

With more advanced cases of white line disease, it may be necessary to debride (remove) diseased tissue to expose the infectious organisms to oxygen, which they cannot tolerate. Treatments vary from drilling access holes made at the top of the infection, which is an easier and less invasive treatment, to removing areas of the hoof wall. If large areas of hoof wall are removed, the integrity of the hoof is greatly compromised, and a special custom shoe that supports the hoof (and horse!) is likely needed. The danger here is that if your horse loses this shoe, the situation becomes immediately more critical.

Best treatment option

In the past, it was thought that trimming away hoof tissue or resectioning was enough to take care of the problem. This approach may be viable if you’re 100% sure that ALL the affected tissue has been removed. But if any infection is left in the foot, it will multiply and you’ll need to go through the whole process again.

Today, many professionals agree that the most effective treatment is to trim or resection the hoof (method being dependent on severity and depth of infection) and then apply Banixx solution, either by soaking it in a medicine boot or soaking it via a home-made gadget like a diaper, leaving an entry point where you can re-apply Banixx.

Even with stubborn, long-term white line disease, Banixx has proved to be a highly successful infection fighter. Its unique pH level naturally contains the infection by being totally inhospitable to the growth of bacteria and fungus. For detailed instructions, see our web page listed at the end of this article.

Other chemical treatments (such as iodine-based treatments) can be damaging or burn hoof tissue. They may even be cancerous or environmentally harmful (such as formaldehyde or copper sulfate). Banixx will not damage hoof tissue and is entirely environmentally friendly. It also leaves no dark stain on your hands or barn aisle – and poses no risk to your health!

Preventing white line disease

Even though white line disease is a common problem, it’s not to be taken lightly. In more advanced stages, you will be dealing with months of hoof repair and treatment – and possibly NO time in the saddle.

Although it’s more prevalent in warm, moist climates, it’s not uncommon in arid conditions. It affects shod, as well as unshod feet. It can affect just one hoof in a horse and can occur in horses being reared under the most sanitary management conditions.

Regular hoof care and good hygiene are the best defense against the disease. Disinfecting any cavities with a good antifungal/antibacterial product such as Banixx and then packing them in cotton soaked in Banixx can help ward off infection.

Why Banixx?

Banixx has a proven reputation as the go-to product for all fungal and bacterial horse ailments including scratches, rain rot, rashes, cuts and wounds, fungus issues and hoof diseases such as white line and thrush. Naturally, in treating any infection, consistency is the Key.  And, because Banixx is so straightforward to use, it’s much easier to “stick with the treatment program”.  Thus, excellent results in curing white line disease are the norm.

Banixx offers the following benefits:

  • No foreign scent or sting to frighten your horse
  • Clinically tested to be safe around the eye
  • Steroid-free, antibiotic-free
  • Bio-degradable
  • Minimum shelf life of four years, remains viable even after freezing or sun/heat exposure
  • Fast-acting and affordable

For more information about using Banixx for white line disease, visit our web page.


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