Help! Hen with swollen foot!

victoria1June 18, 2006

This morning I noticed one of my hens has a swollen, hot foot, between her toes bulges and the underside is swollen also. I took a look underneath, and it looks as though she may have cut it a while ago and it healed up and maybe it is infected and I never noticed. The cut looked strangely circular, puncture-like, but could be something else. Is there anything I can do about this, or will it go away left alone? I can't have the vet out anytime soon:(

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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

It does sound like the surface healed, sealing in an infection. You may have to lance it. If it were my hen, however, there is one thing I would try first. I would soak that foot in comfortably hot water with a good handful of epsom salts dissolved in it. It may be enough to draw out the infection. I once had a small infection on my toe and that was what the doctor advised. I was pleasantly surprised as I was expecting some high-tech prescription. Took a few soakings, but it worked well.

I also suggest you check out Velvet Sparrow's website... She has a wealth of chicken care info there and is kind enough to make it available to everyone.

Here is a link that might be useful: Velvet's Website

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 5:44PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Soaking the foot is good, you'll also need to keep it clean--this means putting the hen in a cage of some sort that will both keep the foot clean and be kind to the injury so it can heal. Maybe a big cardboard box or a dog kennel with shavings? You can apply a small amount of Neosporin to the injury, and also get some over-the-counter bird antibiotic such as Ornacyn at the pet store. Crush the tablets before mixing it with water or unflavored Pedialyte (Pedialyte gives her an electrolyte boost), they take forever to dissolve.

You also might do some Internet research on Bumblefoot, which is a chronic foot condition chickens can develop. Bumblefoot is notorious for being difficult to treat and eradicate. Hopefully this is a simple injury and will heal up, but if left untreated it can easily turn into Bumblefoot--so bite the bullet and treat it right and keep it clean now. :)

Good luck!

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 9:44PM
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victoria1

I dont know if it is a tumor, or an infection. Like I said, it feels hot, and has a small, scabby looking circle on the bottom of her foot. I sure hope it is not a tumor. Thanks for the tips, hopefully she will be ok.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 3:37PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

This REALLY does sound like Bumblefoot. If you do research online, especially Goodgle Images, you'll see pics, see if it matches your bird.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 4:27PM
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victoria1

I dont know if it is a tumor, or an infection. Like I said, it feels hot, and has a small, scabby looking circle on the bottom of her foot. I sure hope it is not a tumor. Thanks for the tips, hopefully she will be ok.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 4:40PM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

It won't go away until you relieve the pressure of the pus that is built up inside.

Its a disgusting mess but needs to be done.

You can lance it and squeeze out the pus & then rinse with peroxide. bandage it so no dirt gets in, but still lets it drain. If probably will fill up again, and you will have to do it over again until it stops.

If the wound heals up before its healed from the inside, it will just build up again.

Change the dressing daily & squeeze out the pus for a few days. A shot of an antibiotic probably won't hurt.

Good Luck
M

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 9:20AM
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victoria1

Yesterday I finally caught her and tried to treat it a bit. I soaked it in warm epsom salt water as suggested, if only to soothe her, which she seemed to enjoy. But when I took an even closer look, it was HORRID, I dont know how I could have missed something so aweful and obvious!!! I looked closer at the underside of her little foot, and decided to explore the scab a little....it was a REALLY deep puncture wound it looks like, probably about a 1/3-1/2 inch deep, tube shaped, and full of dirt( or whatever it was I cleaned out) that was sealed in by a scab! I also pulled out a bit of dead tissue, and the hollow hole that was left has healthy looking tissue around it it seemed. It bled a little so I just let it, then I put antibiotic ointment up there and wrapped it. It seems the infection is still in the foot though. I put her inside the coop for the night, in a cat carrier with clean bedding, food and water so she could at least see her flockmates, and she was eating/drinking and acting fine. Her foot is less hot this morning, but still swollen between the toes, and that hard lump is still there between one of her toes (solidified infection/cyst?). I was thinking of getting her the Ornacyn tablets in water. I am hesitant to lance it, as I don't really know how. Does anyone experienced in this have any tips on how to do this, or any info? Should it be done on bottom or top? Like I said, I cant have the vet out. You all have been very helpful and I would appreciate any further suggestions!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 1:36PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Good for you! You're making progress! Is the lump between the toes easier to get at from the top or bottom? That will determine where you lance it, I think. All things being equal, a cut on top of the foot will be easier to keep clean.

Lancing sounds scarier than it is. The object is to create a small clean cut to relieve the pressure and to allow the pus to get out. Any sharp tool -- a fresh blade of an exacto-knife, a razor blade with the back taped for safe handling, or a sharp pointed knife -- can be used to open the wound. Be sure to heat it in a flame first to sterilize it. Remember that the pressure of the pus is what hurts and she will hardly feel the incision itself... but she will experience instant relief once the pressure is eased. So don't worry that you are hurting her.

You may want someone to help by holding her still. Failing this, immobilize her by wrapping her in a towel or old sheet with the injured foot sticking out. If you like, sing lullabies while you work. It will calm both of you. Really!

Make a short cut. You'll know you've got it when the pus, blood etc. starts coming out. Once the wound is open, press out as much of the pus as you can and then I suggest another soak in epsom salts and comfortably hot water as this will help draw out more of the infection. Then put on the peroxide (which doesn't sting) and a bandage of clean cloth or gauze.

Marquisella is right that you may need to repeat the treatment. But the second time you open the wound it will be easier because it will not be fully healed.

You can handle this. You are doing it to save your hen's life. Walk through the steps in your mind so you are confident - and then just do it. You - and the hen - will be fine.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 2:08PM
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victoria1

Thank you so very much, I will give it a try in a few minutes and let you all know how it goes!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 4:48PM
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victoria1

Ok, well yesterday I attempted to lance the swlling. It didn't go as I had hoped. Not much came out, and it seemed solid. I just don't understand. If it IS a tumor of some kind, it is on both sides of her middle toe, much larger on one side, but it doesn't make sense that there is a gaping hole in the bottom of her foot too. I just don't know. I attempted to lance it, it bled out a little, I cleansed it with peroxide, soaked it in epsom salt water again, and bandaged her up. She acts ok, other than that she limps ever so slightly, and sits a bit more (I don't blame her I guess). So yea, I don't know, I guess I'll try to look stuff up and see what else it could be....

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 9:29AM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

HMMMM, sounds like a puncture wound, but still something should come out if it is infected.

You could try something called "Ichthamol", don't know if I spelled it right, it is a black, stinky goo that is used to draw out infections. You can put a glob of it on the hole and bandage it up so it stays put. It really does a good job of drawing out infection, pus, etc. Sold at Agways or feed stores that sell things for animals, TSC too.

It might be that she has had it for so long, the infectious material has solidified. Keep soaking. You can try Creasol, it is sold in grocery stores where they have lysol. It also smells bad, but using it for soaking really draws out the infection, better than epsom salts, and it disinfects also. It takes days to get the smell off your skin, so wear gloves. I would use about 2 tablespoons per gallon of water, its very strong.

M

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 11:11AM
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victoria1

Thanks. I am just getting frustrated. She doesnt seem in too much pain, but it bothers me that she has it:( I wish I could call the chicken fairy!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 11:47AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Victoria, you have not posted whether or not you have ruled out bumblefoot. I did a quick image search and found a picture and write-up that may help you sort it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bumblefoot Info

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 2:35PM
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victoria1

It does not look a lot like that, although I'm not sure if there are variations or not. Her toes are fine, she just has a large swelling/lump between two of her toes, and a smaller swelling/lump between her two other toes, plus that hole in the bottom. I wish I could post a pic. No camera:(

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 4:55PM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

The picture for bumblefoot is very advanced so the whole foot is swollen. It starts on the bottom or between the toes and spreads if not treated.

I'd still do the soaking and try to express something out of the bumps. Give it an antibiotic, it won't hurt.

Good Luck,
M

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 9:22AM
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