Puncture wounds in the foot

Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your horse. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find a Vet

Puncture Wounds In The Foot

Puncture wounds in the foot can be a very serious, life-threatening injury to the horse. This is because penetrating objects are often contaminated with dirt, rust, and manure which can carry bacteria into the sensitive hoof structures. Chronic infection of these structures can result in persistent lameness and loss of athletic performance of the horse.

Unfortunately, unless the penetrating object is still in place, it is sometimes difficult to recognize that the horse has a puncture wound injury since the initial injury closes rapidly.

Puncture wounds are classified according to the depth of penetration and location on the foot. The depth of penetration can be superficial if it only penetrated cornified tissue or deep if it penetrated more than 1cm (0.39in) in the sole and 1.5cm (0.59in) into the frog. Deep wounds are separated into three types based on their location.

Puncture wounds can often cause septic pedal osteitis in horses do to the introduction of bacteria and debris into the solar surface of the P3.


Varying degrees of lameness
Increased digital pulse
Warm to the touch
Swelling of the pastern
Response to hoof testers
Puncture item still intact or puncture hole visible


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs
  • MRI



If the penetrating object is still in placeit should be bent so that further penetration does not occur, however the object should NOT be removed until your veterinarian arrives.
They will need to take radiographs with the object still in place in order to determine the extent of the structures involved and direction of the penetration.
Tetanus toxoidif the horse hasn't received one in the past 6 months
Arthrocentesis of any synovial structure
Surgical debridgement



Varies widely due to the many factors involved.

Scientific Research

General Overviews

  • hoof - puncture wound icon