As a horse owner, one of the responsibilities you have to fulfill is to ensure healthy equine skin. In most cases, your horse’s skin doesn’t require any special attention. However, it’s crucial to avoid taking healthy skin for granted. Changing temperatures and health conditions could make your horse prone to skin problems. And these problems are often extremely challenging to resolve. So you need to proactively engage in horse skin protection to ensure healthy skin for your horse.
You don’t necessarily have to invest in expensive ointments and medicines. Instead, you should be well aware of the basics of horse skin protection using some basic supplies and tactics. This is an introduction to knowing how to maintain healthy equine skin; if your horse has an acute skin problem, you should contact your veterinarian.
#1: How to Prevent and Treat Sunburn
Horses with sparse hair coat or pink skin are susceptible to sunburn. Not only does it cause immense discomfort for your horses, sunburn also puts them at risk for developing certain types of cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.
The best way to prevent equine sunburn is by using a flymask that is made of UV-block fabric. This can help in prevent UV rays from burning the skin around the horse’s eyes. Other options for horse skin protection include application of human-grade sunscreen in areas that are susceptible to sunburn.
Image Source: Pixabay
You can also spot apply an ointment containing zinc oxide such as Healex. These will stay on your horse’s skin longer and help in soothing and repairing areas that have been affected by sunburn.
#2: Dealing with Photosensitivity
Horses can also experience a condition known as photosensitivity, which causes burning, swelling, and blisters on the tissues of the skin. It is caused by a combination of sun exposure and consumption of certain medications or plants.
Horses can experience primary photosensitivity when they graze on plants that contain things such as St. John’s wort, or buckwheat. These are photodynamic chemicals. Secondary photosensitivity occurs when there’s a problem with the horse’s liver as a result of illness or ingestion of toxic substances, resulting in an inability to filter the photodynamic compounds.
Image Source: Pixabay
Horse skin protection in case of photosensitivity requires removing plants with photodynamic compounds from your pastures; clover, perennial rye, and buckwheat are the most common photodynamic cover crops found in pastures. And make sure you talk to your vet about any medications that could have photodynamic reactions. You can also protect your horse by ensuring that there’s enough shade in the turnout area.
#3: Horse Skin Protection in Case of Rain Rot
Rain rot, sometimes known as rain scald, is a common skin condition affecting horses. It is caused by a bacterium known as dematophilus congolensis, which is a dormant bacteria carried by some horses. Carriers will then develop rain rot when there’s skin trauma and chronic moisture at the same time. Rain rot appears in the form of paintbrush lesions, crusty and matted hair on the back and rump, or raw and tender skin.
To protect your horse from rain rot, you need to make sure that there’s proper drainage in your paddocks and pastures. Your horse should always have access to dry areas in order to prevent scratches. If you’ve set up a run-in shed for your horses, you should also ensure that water can’t collect inside. And if there’s a stall for your horse, try to maintain clean and dry bedding.
If, however, your horse has already developed rain rot none of these horse skin protection tips will make it go away. So in addition to that, make sure you bathe your horse using an antibacterial shampoo. Try to be gentle because the condition can be painful for your horse.
You can also try and remove the matted hair clumps, but this can be risky as the process may be very painful. It would be best to consult a veterinarian in case of severe cases of rain rot. After bathing your horse, dry them up completely and keep them in a dry place so their skin can heal properly.
#4: Protecting Your Horse from Ringworm
Another essential step in horse skin protection is the prevention of ringworm. This can be a bit challenging since the condition is highly contagious. If your horse has ringworm, you’ll notice circular patches of bald spots and crusty, scaly skin.
To protect your horse from ringworm, you must take the time to disinfect their grooming tools on a regular basis even if there aren’t any ongoing outbreaks at the moment. You can remove dirt with a thorough vacuuming. But to completely kill pathogens, soak the grooming tools in a mild bleach solution with a water/bleach ratio of 10:1. After this, leave the tools to dry in the sun.
Image Source: Pixabay
#5: Protecting Your Horse Against Bugs
Horse owners should also protect their horses from a condition known as sweet itch or insect bite hypersensitivity. Certain biting insects secrete a saliva that your horse may be allergic to. Some breeds of horses, such as Friesians, Icelandic, and Shetland, may be more susceptible to allergens.
Sweet itch is most commonly caused by the bite of tiny midges belonging to the Cluicoides species. Other insects like horn flies, black flies, and stable flies, can also trigger a reaction. Your horse may experience swelling and itchiness as a result of the condition. In some cases, the horse may try to find relief by rubbing themselves raw.
Insect sensitivity can be prevented by the use of fly spray. But make sure you use a repellent rather than an insecticide, because the latter will only kill insects after they have bitten your horse. You should also keep your horse indoors during dusk and dawn, which are the prime feeding times for insects. You can even fit the stall with a fan and window screens to keep insects out.
Fly sheets are also excellent for blocking out insects.
These are some of the most crucial steps you should take to protect your horse from skin conditions. For complete horse skin protection, make sure you’re cautious about new products that might contain irritants that will affect your horse’s skin. And if you have any questions about ensuring healthy skin for your horses, feel free to get in touch with us.