Navicular Syndrome in Horses

There are few words more terrifying to a horse owner than navicular disease.? This destructive and potentially life threatening syndrome affects the navicular bone in the horse?s hoof.? Veterinarians are still at a loss as to what causes the disease, which means that it is difficult to prevent and even diagnose.? However, once your vet has narrowed down navicular as the source of your horse?s lameness, it is important to know that there are still options for your horse.?

Corrective trimming and shoeing of the affected hoof is of absolute importance.? Many horses have done well with different types of treatment, so work closely with your farrier to determine what is going to have the best results for your horse.? Bute, a pain killer and anti-inflammatory, can help to make your horse more comfortable, particularly in the earlier stages.?

Depending on the suspected cause of your horse?s problem, your vet may wish to work on increasing circulation to the navicular area, sometimes by giving the horse warfarin, an anticoagulant.? Watch your horse carefully when using this drug, as it inhibits blood clotting in the entire body, putting your horse at risk for blood loss in the event of cutting or bruising.? If your horse is in the later stages, a neurectomy may be the last resort.? In this case, the nerve to the foot is cut, causing complete numbness.? Because the horse will lose all feeling in his foot, it is imperative that he not be ridden.?

With constant advances in veterinary science and corrective/therapeutic shoeing, navicular does not have to be the terrifying disease that it once was.? Some horses can and do respond very well to treatment, and continue to live a pain-free and happy life.

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