Race Horses, Sled Dogs, and Professional Athletes All Prioritize Foot Care

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By Cesar Collado

Thoroughbreds can be people or animals. They are known for their speed, athleticism, and grace, but unfortunately all of their performances rely on foot health. Unnecessary disease, injuries, and infections of the feet can have significant opportunity costs to both the athletes and their clubs. The same goes for prized thoroughbred animals that work.

Racing or Working Horses

Horse’s hooves are sometimes like a piece of untreated porous wood. They are going to take on moisture when they come in contact with water and will shed that moisture when they are dry, but can become overly brittle. This constant battle of wet and dry can compromise the integrity of the hoof, much like it would a piece of wood, predisposing it to cracking and chipping and making it brittle.  Fungal growth or “thrush” is also a regular issue that requires veterinary care. Special attention hoof health and shoe fitting is critical in maintaining the proper angles, thickness, and fit.  

Sled or Working Dogs

Working dogs require proper care to masintain their ability to perform.  With Sled dogs or dogs working in the heat, regular inspection of paws is important.  Owners regularly check for any cracked skin, dryness, blisters, or scarring.  Nails need to be maintained within a narrow “Goldilocks zone” where they are neither too long (which can cause them to snag and break off) nor too short (which will diminish their ability to grip the ice when running). Some breeds heck the webbing between the toes for any redness, irritation, or swelling.  A veterinarian is consulted when irregularities are identified.  Specially made booties and healing ointments are used regularly.

Professional Athletes

While pedicures seem like a luxury for many, there are many people who consider pedicures as part of their regular health regimen.  Actors or models get paid for attractive features. It makes sense to maintain the appearance of healthy hands and feet.  

There is a growing trend of professional athletes who are practical in recognizing that they are paid handsomely for their skill that are executed with their hands and feet.  It then becomes obvious that pedicures are not just important for appearance, they are important for feet health.

Consider an ingrown toenail, unmanageable callouses, bacterial and fungal infections, physical damage to nails, and other dermatological issues can bench an athlete.  As a result, Many NBA, NFL, and other professional athletes both enjoy and value their pedicures to maintain their feet health. 

Maintaining foot health should not just be a priority for high performers.  Avoidance of disease and infection is reason enough to keep you feet well taken care of.