Natural Horse World


A hoof treated for seedy toe by removing the damaged hoof wall.
A hoof treated for seedy toe by removing the damaged hoof wall.

Seedy toe seems to be one of the most common afflictions to a horse’s hooves and can best be described as a fungal infection which enters through the white line where it has been weakened either by excess hoof growth, horse shoe nails or sub-clinical laminitis.

It gets its name from most commonly being found in the toe area, although it can affect any other part of the hoof wall.

Where the integrity of the white line has been weakened (stretched or punctured) the fungi and bacteria enter from the soil much like hoof rot in sheep, and eat their way up the inside of the hoof wall, thriving on the dark, damp conditions. What can first look like a small area of rot once dug into with a hoof knife can reveal a large amount of damage, which in severe cases can cause chronic lameness.

As the primary infection is usually fungal, it means that it does need consistent treatment to return the hoof to good health.

Clean the hole made by seedy toe to get rid of the 'crumbly' black residue.
Clean the hole made by seedy toe to get rid of the ‘crumbly’ black residue.

First, if you trim your own horse’s hooves, you need to remove as much of the damaged (crumbly) hoof wall as possible to open the infected area to the light and air and to stop dirt being packed into it.

If you aren’t confident about doing this, ask a hoof care specialist to show you how far to trim and be careful to only remove hoof wall, not sole or the sensitive laminae inside the white line.

Next, it’s a matter of using an anti-microbial agent to soak the hoof in once or twice a week. Milton nappy wash or the generic equivalent (Black & Gold or Home Brand) which have the same chemical component and concentration as Milton, are ideal at a ratio of 1:10 (9 parts water). I mix up a 2 litre bottle using 200ml of Milton and the rest luke-warm water.

Many bleaches use the same chemical (sodium hyperchlorate) but at different concentrations. It is probably easier to use the “Milton” than to work out the right does rates for the bleaches.

Using a hoof soaking boot or if you’re on a budget, a section of inner tube folded in half once the hoof is inside and tied around the pastern is just as effective.
After cleaning the infected area thoroughly with a wire brush and even a sharp knife or nail to get all the dirt out, put the hoof boot on and pour in enough solution to fill it to mid pastern level.

Inner tube soaking boots
Tyre inner tubes make durable soaking boots – click the image to see more on hoof pathologies.

After 10 minutes, empty the boot and add fresh solution. Do this again twice more after 10 minutes so there is a total soaking time of 30 minutes.
While the hoof is nice and clean, spray the infected area with a solution of 1:10 Vetadine (9 parts water) that you have mixed in a spray bottle (Vetadine is an economical form of tamed iodine (betadine) that you can buy as an animal wash from your vet or produce store… again it is the easy way to get the dosage right as “iodine” may come in a large range of concentrations and straight iodine mixed 1:10 is quite destructive).

You can spray the Vetadine in twice daily if it’s a serious infection, otherwise, do it as often as possible between soaking.

This method has been used with great success by Peter Laidely of Hooworks Australia. He says people who use other products such as pure Formalin or Copper sulphate, risk poisoning their horse as the area where the bacteria reaches is alive and can absorb these chemicals into the blood stream.

Bug Buster Hoof Disinfectant.
Bug Buster Hoof Disinfectant.

Peter has now developed a product that is safe to use called Bug Buster Hoof Disinfectant.

Of course once you have the seedy toe under control, the hoof wall will grow out and if you keep the hoof correctly and frequently trimmed, it will not occur providing you feed a properly mineralised diet. Read more about How Minerals Affect Horses Hooves here.

For more information on keeping your horse barefoot, or learning how to trim, Peter has a wonderful book on CD which is available from our online store.

19 thoughts on “A CURE FOR SEEDY TOE”

  1. My mare has seedy toe and I have been using bluestone and washing it with iodine but not alot happening. We are in flood prone area and the paddocks a very wet where horses stand in water. I have tried stabling but the mare now has swollen legs which only come down when she is allowed to walk in the paddock, hence in the flood again. what should I do???

    1. Cynthia

      Hi Maxine, it sounds like a difficult situation for you and your horses. Ideally, you would give them a dry place to stand out of the water where they can come and go from freely. If you were to provide some sort of gravel pad and perhaps put some hay nets there or feed them their minerals there that would be the best solution.
      Feeding a well-balanced mineral mix daily (I’d recommend Balanced Equine’s Equihorse), and treating the seedy toe with Bug Buster and regular trims should see it clear up if they can get some relief from the wet ground.
      Until you can sort out a dry area for them, stabling overnight and regular daily turnout may be the only option. Leg swelling is a common occurrence from not moving so try to give her as large an area as possible, and a mate to be near so she’s not standing in one place looking for the herd.

      1. karen shaki

        My horses one by one they are getting seedy toe
        I don’t really know what to to
        Stable has sunlight enough dry ground but still they get it can u help me what can i don to stop having this problem?

        1. Cynthia

          Hi Karen, if all your horses are getting seedy toe the place to start is making sure they are getting a high copper/zinc mineral supplement daily like to give them what they need to repair hoof horn effectively.
          Then find a good barefoot trimmer who knows how to deal with seedy toe using resection and topical treatments such as to control the bacteria causing the continuation of the problem.
          There are no quick fixes so it’s a long-term commitment to good hoof care, regular trimming, and a well-balanced diet. Check out the other articles on these topics that I’ve written about to help guide you and I hope this has been helpful.
          Cheers, Cynthia.

  2. Hannah mackay

    Hi please could you tell me in you can the dilute iodine. My vet have me some for my horse that had seedy toe. Or is betadine better to use as I can’t seen to get hold of any vetadine. Thanks Hannah

  3. Hi there Cynthia,
    My QH mare has a stubborn case if seedy toe mostly because we have had so much rain and also because my back has a pinched nerve and I find it hard to treat her. However also because I did not realize this condition just gets worse even though she has regular farrier attend and also she does have a stable and dry areas.
    So my question is, Is the Bug Buster Hoof disinfectant and the mineral mix available at any retail produce or saddlery stores around the Penrith, Windsor or Richmond NSW areas? Or are you the only access available?
    I do give my mare permanent access to mineral bricks of several types so, is the mineral mix for her hoof really necessary?
    Also where can I purchase a proper hoof soak for the Milton. Mainly want to know if it’s easier to put on because of my back issues.
    Kind regards Sue.

    1. Cynthia

      Hi Sue, Sorry for the slow reply – some retailers may stock the Bug Buster but I’m not sure who so probably quicker and easier to order here.
      Most mineral bricks/licks won’t supply enough copper and zinc which are the building blocks for hoof repair so yes a balanced mineral mix such as Hoof Rescue will help solve the issue long term.
      The hoof soaking boots are available here:
      Hope that helps, Cynthia.

  4. Courtney

    Hi Cynthia,
    I have ordered your bug buster hoof disinfectant to treat seedy toe and thrush. Should I be using the bug buster instead of the Milton soak? At the moment I am cleaning out and packing the seedy toe with a Vaseline/copper sulphate mix daily and pouring watered down copper sulphate over the hooves daily. How should I incorporate the bug buster into my routine, should I just use that once a week and stop copper sulphate completely? And should I do the miltons wash too or just the bug buster? A bit confused – so much to take in! I am not sure if its the seedy toe/thrush causing some lameness or if he is also slightly laminitic, so to be sure he is being locked up and fed a biscuit of soaked hay morning and a small low sugar hard feed (1 scoop pony chaff with 1/2 scoop microbeet and kohnkes trim) to get some vitamins and minerals into him – I have also ordered your laminits mix to add to his feed to get these feet right. He gets 1 hour turn out a day with a muzzle. And once he is sound I will start exercising him again. Just want to get this pony healed up and sound, he is such a superstar and instead of being out competing, he is in a full on care routine to fix these hoof issues and its breaking my heart!

    1. Cynthia

      Hi Courtney,
      Yes you can use the Bug Buster instead of the Milton’s soak, then pack the hole if there is one, with cotton wool to keep the dirt out. If you notice the cotton wool has gone, re-treat with Bug Buster and re-pack.
      If the cotton wool is pushed in nice and tight it generally stays there. If the hole isn’t big enough to pack, then use the Bug Buster daily after cleaning the hole out.
      Good to hear you’re taking all the right steps to reduce the risk of laminitis – I hope you’re feeding more than 1 biscuit of soaked hay a day though – it’s important to not restrict forage so your pony doesn’t get gut ulcers so use a slowfeeder net to extend the time of eating the forage, and provide enough hay for the whole time your pony isn’t out grazing with the muzzle on (which should be in the early morning hours to reduce sugar intake).
      I hope your treatment will soon get your pony back on track.
      Cheers, Cynthia.

  5. Ingrid

    Hi Cynthia. My mare suffers from rotting frog and heals in the wet conditions of early spring. I am unable to provide dry areas for her feet to dry out. Is that the only cure? Cheers, Ingrid

    1. Cynthia

      Hi Ingrid, Thrush can also be caused by irregular hoofcare (hooves too long) and lack of minerals namely copper and zinc. We’ve had good reports of Hoof Rescue clearing up thrush – so if you perhaps try a mix like this which is high in copper and zinc, along with a regular trim schedule, that will help.
      Regular hoof cleaning and scrubbing with vinegar can also assist.
      Hope this helps. Cynthia.

      1. Ingrid

        Thanks Cynthia.
        I am using the Hoof Rescue but I will try the vinegar.
        Cheers, Ingrid

        1. Ingrid

          me again … can I use undiluted vinegar on active thrush sites? Ingrid

          1. Cynthia

            Hi Ingrid,
            Yes you can – try scrubbing the thrush sites with a tooth brush dipped in the vinegar.

  6. I like the comment about copper sulfate. I have been using copper sulfate granuales daily, diluted in water….Tree Root Killer……per farrier instructions We have hooves on a 6 week trim. These are elder (18 to 25) equines. Mostly are on pasture and dry lot as they are too fat. Should I switch to another solution? At least this formulate is affordable for the 16 feet.

    1. Cynthia

      Hi Wanda, if the copper sulphate is working for you then that’s fine to keep using it. However its also more helpful to feed the copper in a safer form than copper sulphate – poly copper is a coated form that is gentler in their gut. This is in Balanced Equine’s Mineral mixes – you will probably find the Best Guess mix most suitable for older equines.
      Cheers, Cynthia.

  7. Belinda

    Hi, I have some Milton tablets that dissolve in water. Do I mix them to the instructions on the box or mix to a different strength please. Each tablet contains 500mg of Sodium dichioroiscyanurate?

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