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  2. Caring for your equines over Winter-Mud Fever
News Advice & Tips Ask an Expert 03.12.19

Caring for your equines over Winter-Mud Fever

Top tips for happy horses from our equine vets Cinder Hill

This is the second in a series of Winter Care Blogs from our wonderful equine vets, Cinder Hill. They will be releasing a series of blogs about seasonal care in the coming months.

Today's Topic-Mud Fever.

As the rain continues to pour down the ground has long since given in to the mud of winter. This brings many challenges for all of us with horses but one of the most common problems that we see is mud fever.

Mud fever, or pastern dermatitis, is a term for a range of skin reactions, often involving bacteria which are able to infect skin which has been made more susceptible by constant exposure to wet and cold conditions. Pink skin is more sensitive but all skin types can affected and become red, crusty, scabby, often with hair loss and leg swelling which can be painful.

Prevention is always better than treatment but can be difficult. Ideally we would avoid muddy conditions by paddock rotation, fencing off muddy patches or bringing horses in to stables or straw barns. This is obviously not always possible but bringing horses into dry stables for a few hours a day to allow the legs to dry so mud can be brushed off is helpful. If legs are washed off they should be dried thoroughly and clipping can help with getting the legs dry afterwards as well as identifying early lesions for treatment.

Some people believe that feathers can provide protection but once they get waterlogged they make cleaning, drying and treatment difficult. Feathers can also harbour chorioptic mites which can predispose to problems.

Many people find using barrier creams helpful but using them requires care as if applied over wet hair or early sores they can provide an ideal environment for the infection to multiply.

Treatment of mild lesions involves avoiding the predisposing factors. Clipping the legs will often identify more extensive lesions than could initially be appreciated and allows cleaning and drying of the skin. Removing dirt and scabs and dried serum with dilute Hibiscrub or Povidine removes the environment in which bacteria live and allows topical antimicrobial creams to be applied directly to the infected areas. Removing the scabs can be painful and can be made easier by wrapping overnight in cream such as Flamazine and clingfilm, although some horses still require sedation. More serious cases require veterinary attention and on rare occasions may need antibiotics.

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