Owning a horse comes with a lot of responsibility. As well as ensuring your pet is taken care of on a day to day basis, there are also various horse health conditions you need to watch out for.
Mud fever is a particularly common problem for horses that occurs most frequently in the winter months. So what exactly is it and how can you treat the condition?
What is mud fever?
Mud fever is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the horse’s lower limbs. It is more common in horses with white legs and is typically caused by prolonged wet weather.
The infection commonly starts at the back of the pastern in the folds of the skin. It presents itself in the form of thick hairy scabs that are pretty painful for the horse. The scabs aren’t itchy but in some cases the lower leg may also swell up.
This condition shouldn’t be confused with rain scald. These are extremely similar conditions but the difference is that the latter occurs on the croup and back.
Common treatment mistakes
The good news is mud fever is actually pretty simple to treat. You just need to ensure you have adequate horse supplies on hand.
A lot of owners complain that they have tried everything but it doesn’t seem to have worked. There are numerous reasons why your previous attempts at eliminating mud fever might have been unsuccessful. Firstly, unless all of the lesions and scabs have been removed, treatment isn’t likely to work. This is because therapeutic agents cannot penetrate through thick scabs.
It is also important to make sure you are treating the condition with the right type of medication. There are a lot of preventative creams out there which simply provide a barrier over the infected area.
What you need is a treatment that kills the bacteria, not one that just covers it up. Stopping the treatment before the conditions has completely gone is another common mistake.
How should it be treated?
Now you know what not to do, the question is what should you be doing instead?
A good tip that will hugely improve the success of any treatment is ensuring the hair around the affected area is trimmed. You will find that horse clippers are typically too thick to trim the hair properly. Therefore it is highly recommended that you use fine horse hair trimmers.
Removing the scabs is essential, but it can also be difficult. Obviously if not done properly it can cause a lot of distress to the horse. Using an udder cream or baby oil on the area for between one and three days will help soften the scabs and make them a lot easier to remove.
Once softened, wash the area with an antibacterial scrub. Leave it on for up to 10 minutes and then wash the legs thoroughly before drying. You may find that you need to repeat the cling film treatment a few times before the scabs completely soften.
Once the scabs are removed you need to continue to treat the area. This can be done by applying an antibacterial cream twice a day. You should stick with this treatment until the skin has fully healed or the mud fever has gone entirely and should never attempt to remove dry scabs.
Following the above advice should help you to get rid of mud fever quickly, easily and more importantly for the horse, painlessly.