Mud fever in horses is a real problem, everyone knows that. But it isn’t as mysterious as you might think – and it is relatively easy to avoid. In our article “what no-one ever tells you about mud fever”, we highlighted one of its chief causes: dry skin. Of course, it can also be caused by other things, such as equine immune deficiency, prolonged exposure to risk factors (mud, dirty, wet bedding, etc.), irritating boots or bandages, lack of shelter or ventilation, etc. In short, there are many causes but they are not unknown. Which is just as well.
1- Stop your horse’s skin getting too dry
From the inside, the main mode of prevention is to give Omega 3 and 6 supplements (flax seed, camelina oil, different kinds of good-quality hay, etc. can all help to keep your horse’s skin hydrated).
From the outside, it’s even easier: just apply a preventive balm that will help to form a moisture barrier whilst at the same time hydrating the skin yet letting it breathe. Avoid using Vaseline or any product that contains it (it suffocates the skin and, in the medium term, makes dry skin patches worse)
2- Protect risk areas
Applying the same type of balm (Natjely) to areas most exposed to mud or dripping water (shoulders, inside of thighs, legs, back, etc.) is an easy way to prevent dermatophilosis problems. It both forms a screen and acts as a great skin care, strengthening the skin’s elasticity and thereby helping it protect itself.
3- Eliminate risks
Equipment: boots, permanent bell boots, stable bandages, etc. should only be used when needed and always as a very temporary measure. Prolonged use and rubbing can cause lesions, irritation and skin dehydration, all of which can destabilise the epidermis and allow bacteria to enter.
Environment: lack of ventilation (stable) or an over-muddy or very dirty environment are also risk factors for your horse.
Hosing down the legs to remove mud is not really a solution. It should be done regularly but never daily. This is because water (which is often cold to boot) attacks the horse’s already fragile skin, making the situation even worse. Ideally, just do it once a week using, as always, a suitable product.
Banish disinfectants (they should only be used to disinfect serious wounds). Opt instead for a gentle shampoo, that has been specially designed for your horse’s epidermis and living conditions and contains plants with anti-bacterial and decongestant properties, such as tea tree.
To sum up, here’s our “mud fever prevention” routine:
1- Use Animaderm’s “TT Shampoo” once every 7 to 10 days, and then dry well with a towel.
2- Apply “Natjely” to risk areas once a week, to create a barrier whilst restoring elasticity to your horse’s skin
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The information provided does not in any circumstances replace the advice of your veterinarian. It is the fruit of over 12 years’ experience and analysis of equine skin problems