White line disease can have several causal factors but it always involves opportunistic organisms finding a pathway to enter the inner hoof wall and taking hold to eat away from deep inside. Our horses' hooves are exposed to bacteria and fungi everyday in the soil they walk and live on. An area of weakness in the hoof wall or laminar connection can give it a chance to proliferate and eat away at the inner hoof wall. Since it’s deep inside the hoof wall you may not see it on your own until your vet or farrier opens the area exposing the diseased material. Cracks and dry brittle hooves, overly moist hooves or the compromised connection from laminitis all can create an easy entry point to start the progress of WLD. Treating WLD involves addressing the underlying cause and clearing up the damage that is already done.
Some causes that give WLD a foothold can be:
* Dietary-- Diet plays a major role in hoof health, and in the case of metabolic syndrome and laminitis addressing diet is even more important. Low sugar diet plus mineral supplementation are key. A hoof supplement with biotin, zinc, copper and amino acids is a great start.
* Wet environments-- keeping your WLD prone horse's hooves as clean and dry as possible is a very important part of the treatment process. Moisture in the hoof causes the hoof wall to expand and create pathways for fungi and bacteria to work its way inside. Moisture also creates a bacteria and fungus breeding ground so it's a double punch.
*Overly dry hooves-- If your horse has dry, brittle walls that break and chip easily that can also give bacteria and fungi a nice entryway into the inner hoof wall. If your horse's hooves crack due to a dry environment then we love regular application of Pure Sole Hoof Oil on the outer walls as well as the soles and frog.
If you suspect your horse may have an issue, have your vet or farrier evaluate for WLD. You will generally see some cracking or dark tracts from the outside and if you tap on the wall it may sound hollow in the affected area. If WLD is found, the vet will cut away/debride some of the wall to clean out the diseased material and expose the area to air, which in itself will help prevent it from perpetuating. Then do your best to keep that area dry as the affected wall grows down.
You can apply a layer of Pure Sole Hoof Mud every few days to help dry up the area as well; just a thin layer will do the trick since we want the active ingredients to absorb in and dry it out. In wet conditions plugging the area with Pure Sole Hoof Wax can be helpful to keep the wet footing out but you don't want it trapping moisture in so make sure the area is clean and dry before applying.
WLD can be tricky to combat and keep at bay so work closely with your vet or farrier.
This mild case was low in the hoof wall so grow out quickly
This was a long term case that went along with chronic laminitis