by Dr Rod Irwin, Devoted Vets, Warragul, VIC
The Dremel drill is essentially designed for hobbyists. It comes with about 20 or 30 attachments that fit into the drill. We only use one bit, a cylindrical metal barrel with a spiral thread, for two specific veterinary procedures.
What’s good about it
We use the Dremel drill to treat axial wall cracks, a common condition in cattle and a source of lameness. These cracks can become infected and painful. Occasionally, cattle also get corns or poorly formed hoof material in that area as well.
The drill bit allows us to reach into the cloven hoof of the cow and cut out under run areas, corns and cracks in the axial wall. The drill cleans up the area beautifully and has plenty of power to deal with the issue. I first came across this technique at a lameness workshop many years ago and I’ve been using it ever since then.
Less frequently, I also use the Dremel drill when a horse puts a nail through the sole of a hoof. I stand the drill vertically and drill down into the sole puncture to let out the pus and drain the area nicely. There’s no need to exert any force so it’s a painless procedure for the horse. It’s a much better option than using a hoof knife.
The Dremel drill is a very delicate instrument that is able to gently remove small areas of hoof. You can use it just by finger touch—there’s really no effort required. There are a lot of other brands of drill but Dremel is the original and best.
What’s not so good
You need to be very aware of hand safety and keep your fingers clear of the drill. When you have the drill in one hand and the hoof in the other, it’s easy to cause a minor injury to your fingers if you’re not careful.