What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Heat in Hoof Walls, Foot or Feet


The temperature of a horse's foot or hoof is a good indicator of a variety of things. Horses do increase blood flow at times to one foot versus another as a normal process, and this manifests as heat in the hoof wall that can be felt.

Anything causing inflammation in a foot will also result in more heat in that foot. A variety of conditions are known to be associated with hot feet; most notably laminitis, sole abscesses, sole bruises, and fractures.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If the horse seems stiff, or digital pulse is present.
    • If there seems to be pain, swelling or lameness.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • If this seems mild or occasional and the horse seems normal otherwise.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

your role


What To Do

Assess the heat in the hooves carefully. The key is assessing all the feet and comparing the temperatures one to another. It is also vital to consider environmental conditions when assessing temperature of feet. Ambient temperature, direct sunlight in particular, affects the heat of feet.

Heat should be considered more significant if there is also digital pulse present and also increased compared to the other feet. Keep in mind that heat is almost impossible to accurately assess when feet are in direct sunlight. Also, exercise will invariably increase the temperature of the feet.

your vet's role

Your vet will help you make sense of this finding, help you determine whether or not a change in temperature of the foot is significant, and what further diagnostics or treatment are indicated.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • Is there lameness in the limb with the warm foot?
  • How does this foot compare in heat and pulse to the others?
  • Do you detect a digital pulse in the foot?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP