Some horse owners have recently begun using an unusual method to provide pain relief for their horses - melting mothballs on the sole of the hoof. This unlikely remedy has gained attention online after people claimed it helped reduce pain and inflammation in horses with hoof ailments. However, experts urge caution with this approach, as mothballs contain chemicals that can be toxic if used improperly.
The theory behind using mothballs is that the active ingredients, such as naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, act as a mild anesthetic and anti-inflammatory when absorbed into the hoof. The mothballs are melted by a farrier and spread directly onto the sole, where they solidify into a waxy layer providing constant release of the active ingredients.
Proponents of this method say it offers an affordable and accessible option for dealing with common hoof pains, such as laminitis, abscesses or bruising. The numbing effect of the mothball chemicals is said to provide immediate relief, allowing the horse to walk and bear weight comfortably on the affected hoof while it heals. Some farriers also claim the antibacterial properties help prevent or treat infections.
However, scientists and veterinarians caution against using mothballs in this way. These chemicals are designed to kill or repel insects and may be toxic if absorbed at high levels. Melting large amounts of mothballs could release concentrated fumes that are dangerous to inhale. There is also no research proving the effectiveness or safety of this method. The irritant chemicals could potentially burn or damage the sensitive hoof tissue.
While an intriguing DIY concept, melting mothballs on horse hooves has not been scientifically tested or endorsed by veterinary experts. There are safer products designed to treat equine hoof pain, such as hoof packing, poultices and medicated ointments. Horse owners should consult their farrier and vet before trying unconventional pain relief methods. Proper hoof care and treatment can help manage most causes of hoof discomfort in horses.