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Hoof Abscess in Goats: The Cause, Signs and Treatment Options

Hoof abscess in goats

Did your goat get injured recently in the hoof and now struggle to walk or get up due to excruciating pain?

If yes, you may need to examine his injury because that may be one of the cases of hoof abscess in goats.

It’s a contagious disease among ruminants that usually occurs in marshy pastures and overcrowded pens and can affect your goat’s productivity and overall health.

So, controlling this condition is crucial to keep other goats healthy and minimize losses.

But what causes hoof abscess, and how does it occur?

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about this condition from the:

  • Causes and factors of hoof abscess in goats
  • Treatment options
  • Prevention tips (the key to keeping your ruminants happy and healthy!)

So, if you want to know more about this condition and how you can protect or save your goat from it, join us as we uncover the mystery behind hoof abscesses and other hoof problems in goats.

What Causes Hoof Abscess in Goats?

The common culprit of hoof abscesses in goats is Fusobacterium necrophorum.

When the inner structure of the goat’s foot is injured, the Fusobacterium necrophorum takes advantage of it, thus causing an infection in the hoof.

To make matters worse, ticks also take advantage of this condition and nestle on the injury, leading to deep wounds between the claws that result in hoof abscesses.

It usually affects only one hoof or one claw of the hoof.

Since it makes the hoof swollen, hot, and painful, it causes walking issues for the goat.

Any goat can have a hoof abscess, but some factors make a ruminant more susceptible to this goat hoof problem, such as the following:

1. Environment

The goat’s environment plays a huge role in developing hoof infections.

This disease is infectious, so marshy pastures and overcrowded pens are the perfect avenue for spreading this infection.

Another situation that may lead to the spread of this disease is when you participate in goat shows wherein your goats will encounter other infected animals.

2. Diet

If your goat suffers from zinc deficiency, it’s more susceptible to developing hoof abscess.

You probably wonder how.

Well, a zinc-deficient goat is more likely to have swollen or deformed hooves which can lead to lesions or cracks.

And that is where bacteria comes into the picture. They multiply and attack your goats’ hooves.

3. Grooming

Another factor contributing to the development of hoof abscesses in goats is a lack of grooming routine.

Overgrown goat hooves usually turn inward and curl over the hoof’s sole, thus giving a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and organisms that thrive without oxygen.

4. Breed

Some goat breeds are more predisposed to hoof problems than others.

That’s why having healthy feet should also be considered in breeding programs because breeds with consistent bad hoof health tend to produce offspring with bad feet.

But how will you know if your ruminant suffers from this goat hoof problem?

Signs of Hoof Abscess in Goats

Goats with hoof abscesses may struggle to walk, move, or stand due to excruciating pain.

You may also notice swelling at the hairline above the hoof and discoloration of the goat’s sole.

Poor goats suffering from these goat hoof problems are usually lame, and their foot is hot and painful.

That’s why they might avoid bearing weight on the affected foot.

If not treated promptly, hoof abscesses can extend behind the heel and start working their way up.

But you may need to consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.

She might conduct cleaning followed by an inspection and hoof tester application to identify where the painful areas are.

Another sign that your goat suffers from hoof abscess is the pus, which is usually foul smelling.

How to treat abscess in goats

Goat Hoof Abscess Treatment

In this section, we’ll discuss how to treat abscess in goats to help alleviate their pain.

Since a hoof abscess can affect the goats’ health and mobility, you must treat it promptly to prevent the infection from extending up to the legs.

The treatment of abscess in goats usually involves the following:


It can be painful for your goats, but trimming helps remove the dead tissue.

It also exposes the bacteria to oxygen. Since they can’t survive when they’re exposed to oxygen, they’ll eventually die.

But here’s an important reminder:

You must burn the infected hoof trimmings to prevent recontamination.

But what about the hoof abscess itself?

What should you do to treat it?

You need to drain the pus pocket and clean the infected hoof with hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexadine, or Nolvasan before applying any topical medications.

Then, follow our next treatment tip below.


Preparing antibacterial footbaths can also help to disinfect the hooves.

However, since goats don’t like getting their hooves wet, you may need to study your pen’s layout to know how to encourage goats to walk through footbaths.

One pro tip is to place it in an area where goats walk through every day to get their feed and water or access their shelter and pasture. It could be at the pen’s entrance or exit.

Ensure your footbath is non-toxic and non-irritating, like the zinc sulfate solution.

Avoid using copper sulfate and formalin because they may sting or give off irritating fumes.

Even if the latter is an effective disinfectant and can help control hoof rot, scald, and abscess, it’s unsuitable for footbath use.

But it works well when painted onto an infected hoof.

Just make sure that the infected area has been cleaned and dried before formalin application.

Then, soak a cotton pad with the formalin and place it between the abscesses like a wedge.

Since goats are usually active, you may need to wrap the hoof to ensure the cotton stays in place.

Another option is to use an IV bag or soaker sack to purchase online to put the footbath solution and then secure it into the goat’s injured foot.

But you must apply the antibiotics before doing so.

Antibiotics for goat abscess


Aside from footbaths, antibiotics will also be of great help to goats.

You can administrate 200 mg/ml of Oxytetracycline to combat this infectious hoof disease.

Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as the following can also help:

  • flunixin meglumine
  • ketoprofen
  • meloxicam
  • tolfenamic acid

However, you need to consult your vet first before administering any antibiotics for goat abscess.

If your goat isn’t current on its tetanus toxoid vaccinations, you can give tetanus anti-toxin, along with other treatments, because it’s also caused by bacteria that thrive in an anaerobic environment.

Some goat keepers use Intervet VOLAR vaccines.

It’s designed for sheep and cattle and can also be used for pregnant females, but it’s off-label for goat application.


After applying antibiotics for goat abscess, it’s best to wrap the wound with a bandage to prevent dirt from getting into it.

Let the antibiotic do its job, clean the abscess, and replace the bandage regularly.

Reopening and Draining

Aside from regular wound cleaning, you must reopen the abscess to drain it and reapply the antibiotic if it’s topical.

This requires time and effort, but doing it religiously can help save your goat’s life and save her from secondary health issues and infections.

But here’s another important tip to control this goat hoof problem.

Isolate the Infected

Isolating the infected goat can also help to prevent the spread of this goat disease and make your sick ruminant comfortable.

Prepare an accessible feed and water source and monitor their condition.

And don’t forget to provide comfortable bedding as well so your goat can rest well and will be less exposed to moisture.

Prevention tips for goat hoof problems

Prevention Tips for Hoof Abscess in Goats

Hoof abscess in goats is a costly disease for goats and sheep, and it affects not just their reproductive rates and milk and wool production but also their overall health.

Controlling and eliminating this disease inside the herd can take so much time, money, and labor.

So, if you want to avoid these problems and keep your ruminants healthy, as the old saying goes, prevention is the key.

And here are the preventive measures you can take to control and avoid hoof problems in goats.

Regular Trimming of Goat Hooves

One of the most effective preventive measures is having a regular hoof trimming routing for your goats.

If your goats’ hooves are clean and balanced, bacteria and other organism will not thrive nor survive.

Provide a Balanced Nutrition

Since zinc is essential for goats’ protein synthesis and cell division, you must provide a goat feed high in zinc.

It’s worth noting that too much calcium (except calcium from legumes) can cause zinc deficiency.

So, if your goats are experiencing zinc deficiency, it’d help if you’d supplement their diet with at least 10 mg of zinc/kg.

Close Your Herd

Another tip if you want to prevent hoof diseases from invading your herd, follow the closed herd method.

It basically requires you to avoid participating in shows and buying animals from other breeders or producers.

It’s not always practical and applicable, though.

So, when purchasing new animals, inspect their environment and watch out for hoof problems and other health conditions.

It’d also help to get the goats to run through a footbath when entering your pen and quarantine them for at least two weeks to control infectious diseases.

You must also repair or replace dangerous fencing and keep anything that could injure goats.

Treat Injuries Promptly

What if your goat goat hurt or injured right on their hoof? What should you do to prevent hoof abscess from developing?

You may need to ask for a vet’s assistance if the cause of the injury is stuck in its hoof.

Your vet can also conduct x-ray tests of the foot and leg to determine how badly injured your goat is and remove the wire or anything that’s stuck in its body.

You can administer injections with your vet’s help, but you can soak your ruminants’ feet in an Epsom salt and iodine solution by yourself.

You can also use the footbath solution on your goats’ injured foot, but if only one foot is affected, it’s more practical to use a soaking sack or bag.

But you still need to dry their legs and feet, then apply antibiotic ointment into their wound or puncture hole and bandage it with soft pads and vet wraps.

You may need to reopen and drain the solution and reapply ointment for about two weeks or more, but at least your ruminant won’t suffer from painful abscesses if you follow this regimen.

Other Common Hoof Problems in Goats

Aside from hoof abscesses in goats, you should also watch out for the following hoof problems.

Hoof Rot

This infectious disease that occurs in both goats and sheep is common in the Southern region of the USA, primarily due to their wet and humid climate.

Hoof rot is brought about by the microorganism Dichelobacter nodosus, which is present in contaminated soil, and Fusobacterium necrophorum.

Hoof Scald

This condition which is also known by the name benign foot rot or interdigital dermatitis, refers to the inflammation between the toes, which is also caused by Fusobacterium necrophorum.

Although foot scald isn’t contagious, it can lead to hoof rot if not treated promptly.


Laminitis is an inflammation of the delicate tissue located beneath the tough hoof walls, which results in discomfort, lameness, and, eventually, a founder.

When the hoof wall becomes thick and overgrown, the founder occurs, frequently with the toes turning up.

Permanent hoof damage could happen in some instances.

Laminitis may result from trauma, severe bacterial infections, sudden or excessive dietary changes (such as eating too much grain), or other factors.


Granulomas, another result of hoof injury, are round, red swellings of “proud flesh” that develop at the location of the lesion and prevent the hard portion of the hoof wall from developing normally.

The common signs that your ruminant suffers from granuloma are they bleed easily and look lame due to pain and odd-shaped hooves.

FAQs About Hoof Abscess in Goats

How do you treat a hoof abscess in a goat?

The treatment for hoof abscesses in goats involves trimming and soaking their foot in a footbath and applying antibiotics if necessary.

It’d also help if you could put a bandage around the wound to prevent dirt from getting into the wounds.

Should you give antibiotics for a hoof abscess?

Foot abscess is caused by a bacterial infection, but antibiotics are rarely used in treating them because footbaths graining the pus, and bandaging are the key to healing a hoof abscess in goats.

But if you want to speed up your ruminant’s recovery, antibiotics can help.

How do you treat a hoof abscess naturally?

Soaking hooves in warm water with Epsom salts for around 20 minutes a day is an effective way to draw the infection out of the abscess in horses’ hooves, and you can try that on goats.

Will a hoof abscess heal on its own?

Unfortunately, a hoof abscess may not heal on its own. If an animal fails to fight the infection, it might suffer from pain, and the infection will spread throughout its extremities.

That’s why goats with hoof abscesses need your help.

Goat hooves problems

Final Thoughts on Hoof Abscess in Goats

The hoof abscess is among the most common and costliest to treat hoof problems in goats.

However, treating it immediately is important to prevent the spread of the disease.

Aside from trimming your goat’s hoof, preparing a foot bath, and administering antibiotics with your vet’s assistance, you must also quarantine the infected in a separate pen or paddock.

That requires a huge cost and lots of time, but by doing so, you can save your ruminant’s life and prevent further profit losses.

Have you ever experienced dealing with hoof abscesses in goats?

How did you treat it, and what are your tips when dealing with goat hooves problems?

Share with us your secrets and thoughts in the comment section below to help other goat owners keep their ruminants healthy.

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