In a 2011 article, “Foot rot in dairy cows,” I explained what foot rot is and briefly mentioned the different hoof problems that could be misdiagnosed as foot rot. Lameness seems to be on the rise, and misdiagnosing a problem can often cause a lot of unnecessary grief and expense.

Based on some feedback, I’d like to single out one particular hoof problem that’s often mistaken for foot rot: a complicated (infected) sole ulcer.

Table 1

The causes of these two hoof problems differ significantly – therefore, so does the treatment. I’ve listed the key differences in Table 1 .

Again, it’s important to recognize and diagnose lameness at the earliest stage possible. Any type of lameness, just like mastitis, should be treated as soon as possible to achieve optimum results.

Seek professional advice if you’re unsure or if the problem persists.


Animals housed in the same facility might be showing the same symptoms. Either the foot rot is spreading between animals, or the affected animals suffer from the same stress that is causing sole ulcers.

The first is contagious and the latter is non-infectious, but both cases could affect a large number of animals.

Sole Ulcer

To illustrate the differences, I’ve added some pictures. Figure 1 demonstrates a sole ulcer, while Figure 2 depicts foot rot gone out of control.

This brief overview is just a summary of these lameness challenges.

Ask your hoof trimmer or veterinarian for the best treatment protocols for your farm or visit my blog . PD

Koos Vis is with Intra Care North America.


Koos Vis
Intra Care North America

Foot rot