Does Iodine Harden Horse Hooves? (Important Facts)

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 08/17/22 •  6 min read

Do you know?

Strong soles are essential for the general well-being of your horse’s hooves. Super thin soles with a thickness of less than 3/8-inch require extra hardness resistance. Delicate soles are those that could be flexed with your hand.

Although the bottoms of your horse might never become strong enough to allow unprotected riding on rough terrain, they must thicken enough to safeguard the essential parts of his hooves, including the coffin bone.

So, how can you make your horse hooves hard? Do you need iodine to harden horse hooves?

Does iodine harden horse hooves?

Iodine is applied to the hooves because of its healing and disinfecting properties. It is applied to the foot bottom to protect and cure microbial and yeast infestations. The hoof becomes harder as well. Many people combine it with other ingredients to make their own DIY hoof treatments!

Some have employed strong iodine, benzaldehyde, and combinations of alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and iodine. All of them appear to be effective for hardening feet. Hardening of the foot is also achieved by a mixture of sucrose and iodine or powerful iodine (sugardine).

It is applied to infants’ hooves and umbilical cords, as well as to ulcers and fungus-related skin conditions including thrush and rain damage. Iodine could sometimes be diluted with water and used as a treatment after cleaning to treat skin conditions.

Many equestrians and farriers apply hoof hardeners like Keratex and turpentine for drying and hardening their horse’s bottoms. Iodine would make the bottom dry.

Therefore, some equestrians apply a small amount of this solution to the bottom and frog every day to let the sole become stiffer and harder and to protect the frog from further damage.

horse iodine facts

Iodine deficiency

Your horse’s diet has an impact on the toughness and quality of his hooves. Balanced nutrition is crucial in horses, just like it is in people, so ensure that he is consuming a decent proportion of grass and grains in a quantity suitable for his weight and workout regimen.

Iodine is an essential natural component for horses. It is important for various metabolic activities to be offered in the right quantities, along with a solution to protect the thyroid node from expanding (goiter). Having too much or not enough iodine might affect how this gland develops.

It has previously been demonstrated that using ethylenediamine dihydrodide (EDDI) as an iodine supplement for cattle helps reduce footrot. Supplemental iodine can apparently be beneficial for horses. Field investigations have revealed a link between iodine-containing dietary prebiotics and the successful management of white line disorder.


According to the National Research Council, iodine could be safely administered by horses at doses of roughly 0.35 mg per kilogram of powdery substance per day. Based on the iodine level of the ground, average horse meals include between 0 and 2 mg of iodine for every kilogram.


Biotin, which is commonly found in hoof treatments, could also assist strengthen his hooves. Provide a minimum of 20 milligrams every day.

Essential amino acids and zinc are some other micronutrients to search for in a probiotic supplement.

Be patient because it might take medicines up to 6 months to start working. Additionally, increasing the number of fatty acids in your horse’s nutrition might benefit the health of its hooves.

See also: How did horses survive without hoof trimming? Find out how these majestic creatures managed to keep their hooves healthy without the help of humans.

What are the risks associated with using iodine to harden horse hooves?

Ensure the feet are completely washed prior to applying any iodine treatments. You would not want to trap fungus or other potentially hazardous bacteria.

That said, take precautions while using iodine-rich sole hardeners because most of them have drying chemicals like acetone or hydrogen cyanide. Don’t overuse iodine.


Over-drying or drying out the sole too quickly could also cause serious issues. Based on a study where 5 horses’ hooves were soaked for 5 hours in an iodine solution, they developed bacterial growth, and skin got completely damaged.

Once the soles are washed, one indication of concern is that the clefts are bigger than usual. Large portions of the frog may become weak or decayed if the whole structure is compromised.

If the yeast infection is severe and long-lasting, the horse might startle whenever his hooves are scrubbed or clipped.

In extreme situations, the frog could have a discharge, the horse would become paralyzed, and there could be a lot of irritation just above the sole because of an abscess in the feet. Neglected cases could consequently have an impact on the navicular joint and interior organs.

How to use it?

Let’s dig a little deeper:

Farriers advise using a paintbrush to spread iodine (lower chance of utilizing excessive quantity on the hoof), as well as other horse owners, use a tiny syringe to regulate the quantity administered.

You may inject it exactly wherever you would like it using a syringe and direct it toward the frog’s soft tissue and cracks. The solution you utilize would be determined by the area of fragile tissue that has been exposed.

It is administered to the surface after cleaning and drying the affected region.

But the truth?

You don’t need to rinse. The solution is non-irritating to the area and could be applied over a dressing.

The iodine treatment has a relatively long life span if stored inside its original container and within a suitable environment. Several equestrians and farriers apply an iodine-formaldehyde mixture to bind and stiffen the hooves.

Scrub your hands immediately after touching iodine-containing items and avoid drinking them. Iodine treatments are dangerous if consumed orally, and just a few milligrams are required to trigger an adverse health response.


The horse soles are designed to be exceptionally hard, dense, and sturdy with some level of flexibility. Soles that seem to be extremely thin, wet, weak, or supple might put a lot of tension on the delicate heel, resulting in lameness and persistent sole damage.

The thyroid and many other bodily systems require a suitable quantity of iodine in their diet to work effectively.

The point?

You can apply iodine to the affected areas of your horse’s soles and try not to overdo it as it can cause drying.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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