Foot rot

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Foot Rot

Interdigital Necrobacillosis, Foul-in-the-foot, Clit Ill, Interdigital Pododermatitis

Foot rot is an acute and highly infectious disease of cattle, characterized by swelling and lameness.

The disease is caused by an infection with bacteria such as Fusobacterium necrophorum, Bacyeroides melaninogenicus, and Porphyromonas levii. Bacteria gain access through a skin injury or exposure to damp and wet conditions, resulting in a compromised skin barrier. The infection originates underneath the cow's hoof and can spread throughout the foot.

Foot rot initially presents as cellulitis and liquefactive necrosis (tissue death) of the interdigital skin and fissue formation. Without treatment, foot rot will progress to granulation tissue and interdigital granuloma. Advanced cases involve the development of septic arthritis and other serious complications.

Foot rot most commonly occurs during wet seasons, as damp conditions predispose cattle to feet damage and invasion by the organisms.


Sudden onset of mild to severe lameness
Reduced appetite
Swelling of the interdigital space of the hoof and coronet
Toes spread apart due to the swelling
Foul odor
Liquefactive necrosis (tissue death)


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Laboratory tests


Treatment TypeDetailsReference
Systemic antibiotics
Topical medicationsSprays or footbaths
Foot trimming
Surgical amputation may be indicate in advanced cases
Foot trimming (farrier)


  • Minimize risk of interdigital skin injury by covering rough surfaces, ensuring that areas where cattle are kept are free of sharp objects such as old equipment, stones or rusty barrels.
  • Practice good sanitation and regularly clean manure
  • Ensure pasture is well-drained, especially areas around water tanks and feeding tubs
  • Ensure cattle receives balanced nutritional diet with adequate levels of Vitamin D, A and zinc
  • Trim sharp thorn bushes and trees, such as honey locust, which produce sharp thorns which cattle can step on.
  • Promptly and properly treat any wounds or injuries.
  • Check cattle for injuries regularly.

Article Reference

Risk Factors

  • Damp conditions and moisture predispose feet to damage
  • Skin damage/injury
  • Access to thorny bushes or trees in pastures.
  • Muddy conditions
  • Rough handling.




  • Fusobacterium necrophorum
  • Porphyromonas levii

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