Treating Bumblefoot

This guide to treating bumblefoot at home comes from Jewel Johnson of The Rooster Sanctuary at Danzig’s Roost.

What you will need:

  • Chlorhexidine solution
  • Vaseline
  • Tea tree oil
  • 2×2 gauze pads/pieces
  • Vet wrap (self-adhesive wrap)
  • Cloth tape
  • Clindamycin (antibiotic)

Directions:

This is the initial case of bumblefoot we started treatment on:

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We clean off the foot with Chlorhexidine solution that we purchased from the feed store and then dry the foot. We want the plug, the black=and-brown growth you see on the pad of her foot that has worked its way up through to show between the top of her toes, to soften and separate from her own tissue. To do this we mix about 1/2 cup Vaseline with two small drops of tea tree oil, which has natural antibiotic properties. If there are any open wounds that expose bare tissue on the foot, do not use the tea tree oil, which could burn and cause pain.

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Mix the Vaseline and tea tree oil well and cake onto the areas where the plug is showing. Top it off with small 2×2 gauze bits stacked two or three thick to provide padding. Wrap with vet wrap between the toes and around the entire foot and then secure with some cloth tape around ankle. Do not adhere the tape to the actual skin; only adhere to the vet wrap.  The tape may pull off the scales otherwise.

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At the time of the first wrap, starting an effective antibiotic is imperative to bring down the infection and swelling. We use 300mg capsules of Clindamycin. We split one capsule into quarters using empty veg capsules purchased from the health food stores. Three 300mg capsules will split into dosing for 6 days. Once you’ve split each capsule into four doses each using the veg capsules, give one prepared capsule, twice a day, for the six days that you’ve prepared.

Every other day during those six days make sure to change the foot wrap using lots of the mixture of tea tree and Vaseline, 2×2 gauze, vet wrap, and tape. If at any time during wrap changes the plug comes out or partially comes out leaving any exposed tissue, do not use the tea tree oil in the Vaseline mixture.

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The plug will begin to separate from the natural tissue on its own with the treatment. You should not have to use any real force to remove the plug.  It will be removed very easily if it has been adequately maintained with good wraps. Do not rip the flesh by forcing the plug out of the foot. If the plug is still connected to the foot tissue, apply another Vaseline wrap and repeat in two days to see if the plug has loosened more.

Once the plug has come away from the foot, clean the entire area with Chlorhexidine and a Q-tip to remove any easily removable residue. Re-wrap with just Vaseline, 2×2’s, and vet wrap and tape.

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The hole or crater left behind after the plug has been removed from the foot will close on its own in most cases. Repeat wraps and cleanings until the hole closes cleanly.

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** Note: We have developed this treatment over time with our veterinarian. We have found this treatment to work wonders as long as the plug is exposed outside the foot. If the bumblefoot infection is contained and encased within the skin of the foot, Clindamycin is effective in reducing the infection and swelling drastically after six days of treatment, which also includes wraps to pad the foot. In these cases, if the non-exposed bumblefoot infection is still too large and painful, your vet can perform surgery if it’s still necessary.

We prefer to avoid surgical intervention when possible because incision into the flesh introduces additional pain and additional risk for secondary infection.

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