Here’s a fun fact; Americans spend over nine billion dollars a year on skin care products. As a horse owner, you’re probably not one of those people.
Your beauty products all have pictures of horses on them.
That’s a good thing. After all, your horse’s skin is his most important organ, protecting his internal systems from the onslaught of the outside world. The quality of your hose’s skin offers useful information about his health and well-being. A healthy coat looks and feels clean. Every hair follicle is smooth as silk and appears as though it’s capped with light. A dull or patchy coat might indicate he’s suffering from one of the following 5 skin ailments.
Common in horses because they spend so much time outdoors. The sun, although we love it, poses a serious health hazard. Too much sunlight can cause sunburn, panful hives, or even skin cancer. Gray horses are thought to have a genetic predisposition to skin cancer so prevention is key. Avoid peak hours of sunlight, between 10:00am and 4:00pm, for those horses with sensitive skin. Use sunscreen, masks, and UV protective sheets to shield your horse from the damaging rays of the sun.
Caused by the bite of the midge, a tiny insect that is most active at dawn and dusk. Midges are most prevalent in hot and humid weather. They love wet, boggy areas so consider fencing off these areas to protect your horse. If your horse suffers from an allergic reaction to midge bites, your veterinarian may prescribe antihistamines to alleviate his symptoms. Some horse owners have seen positive results from treatments like immunotherapy, nutritional support ( fatty acids and linseed oil), and shampooing with a wild geranium based shampoo or lavender oil. Always check with your veterinarian before adding anything to your horse’s diet.
It is not caused by a worm at all. It’s a fungal infection of the skin and hair, usually presenting as small circular patches of hair loss. It’s highly contagious so infected horses should be quarantined, including their brushes, blankets, or anything that comes into contact with the skin.
These are non-cancerous tumors caused by a virus. They first appear as small pink or gray cauliflower type growths and are more common in young horses who have not yet developed good immune systems. While not life threatening, warts can be unsightly and are hard to treat. Your veterinarian can surgically remove warts if necessary, but there’s no guarantee they won’t return.
This is a dry flaky papilloma viral infection, similar to warts. They are usually found in the ears and can be quite painful. Some horse owners find success protecting the lesions with mentholatum and fly masks that protect the ears from insect bites.
Taking good care of your horse’s skin is more than just a beauty treatment. As the largest and hardest working organ he has, good skin is essential to his overall health. A well thought out beauty routine for your horse and a weekly check for skin problems makes for a great prevention plan.
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Karen Elizabeth Baril
Karen Elizabeth Baril all sorts of subjects, including equine and animal wellness, the writing life, motherhood, marriage, and what it’s like to be a woman in the 21st century. You can find out more about Karen on her website.