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Puncture Wounds in the Foot

Your horse’s feet are vulnerable to whatever may be on the ground, and a puncture wound can be deadly.
Close-up photo of sorrel horse's feet. The horse has three white socks and on the right-front leg has a white mark in the shape of a heart.

Your horse’s feet are vulnerable to whatever may be on the ground, and a puncture wound can be deadly. 

Stab Wounds In The Foot

Puncture injuries in the hoof are a red alert. Deep wounds can result in sepsis and damage to the navicular or coffin bones or synovial structures (coffin joint, navicular bursa, digital sheath). With any puncture, contact your veterinarian immediately. If the nail or other object is still embedded, many vets prefer you leave it in place until they arrive as X-ray will provide precise information about the extent of the damage. If the piercing object is no longer there, it may be hard to diagnose a puncture wound; extreme pain is a symptom, but that can also be sign of an abscess. Deep punctures may require surgery to heal properly.

Close-up photo of a horse wearing Soft-Ride Boots.

A protective boot—like Soft-Ride Boots—can help keep the puncture wound clean.

To Protect the Wound

Given prompt veterinary attention, punctures that don’t reach the synovial structures have a good chance of healing completely with no complications.

If the wound doesn’t require surgery, your vet will clean it thoroughly via lavage and may culture it to determine which antibiotics may be needed. A tetanus shot may also be given.

At that point, some sort of protection will be required to keep the wound clean. Options include:

  • Bandaging secured with duct tape.
  • A protective boot with bandage underneath.
  • A shoe with special pad or plate.

These Can Puncture

Three photos in circles. First photo is hammer and nail; second photo is debris you might find on the ground at a barn; third photo is a broken fence.

nails, screws | Nails, screws, splinters, and other construction detritus.

sharp stones | Jagged rocks and other sharp features of the landscape.

fence parts | Wire, snapped-off T posts, and other broken fence parts.