Lameness will appear suddenly and often only in 1 foot. A moderate fever may be present in the animal and some pus may be seen. Necrotic skin may be seen and will have a foul odor. The foot is usually swollen and the animal in acute pain.
Often the animal will recover on its own but if not treated, the lameness and pain could continue for weeks. Penicillin, tetracyclines, sodium sulfadimidine, sulfabromomethazine, and other antibacterial agents are used for systemic therapy. Daily treatment begun immediately after onset of lameness usually will give excellent recovery in two to four days. Treated animals should be maintained on a dry surface until recovered. Recent research has shown that dietary zinc supplementation is effective in treating and preventing footrot in cattle.