Yup, sadly mud can give your horse mud fever..yet another reason to be glad went winter is over, but your horse will thank you if you prevent rather than have to cure this common winter ailment.
Mud fever is most frequently seen in horses during wet, muddy conditions but this is not always the case.
The condition is more common on the hind legs and tends to affect the back of the pastern causing an inflamed and scabby area which may or may not be itchy or painful.
Signs of mud fever:
Initially, the skin at the back of the horse’s pastern or heel becomes inflamed and thickened before progressing around and up the leg.
Early signs of mud fever include some hair loss and crusting and as the infection progresses, it becomes more pronounced within the horizontal skin folds. There may be a wet look to the leg (greasy) where serum oozes from the affected area which may progress to a white, pussy discharge. These discharges will dry and harden into thick crusts that harbor the bacteria within. The more severe cases will become very painful and hot and the whole lower limb may become swollen and the horse may become lame.
Traditionally mud fever was blamed on a bacteria called Dermatophilus congolensis; however it is now recognized that there are many factors that can contribute to the symptoms.
Wet conditions cause the skin to soften. Mud will rub against this softened skin causing abrasions to the surface. Certain soils and pastures appear to be more likely to cause skin damage than others. Lots of work in certain sandy arenas and schools can be quite traumatic to the skin.
You can protect your horse this winter with products such as Keratex Mud Shield Powder, which is easy to use and will coat your horse's legs with a waterproof layer, offering protection from the causes of mud fever. Just puff the powder on the vulnerable area for day long protection. It is a good idea to protect your horse's legs before mud fever takes hold, so this product I believe, is an essential in any horse owners winter kit list.
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