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Mud Fever

Mud Fever

With the continuation of the rather inclement weather, paddocks and turnout continue to be very muddy.  As such, despite the best efforts of their owners we are currently seeing and hearing about lots of horses with mud fever (equine pastern dermatitis).

Essentially the condition is the result of disruption to the skin which then allows bacteria into the skin to set up an infection.  Disruption of the skin is most commonly due to the maceration (over wetting) of the skin.  The lesions that develop can range from scales and crusts on the legs through to painful, thickening and inflammation with large scabs. 

Prevention is always better than cure, although with the current conditions this becomes increasingly hard to do.  If your horse does start to show signs of mud fever, try to get your horse onto some dry ground for at least some of the day, clean the legs off (warm water with a very small amount of hibiscrub can be effective) remove any scabs (this is where the bacteria causing the infection are) and dry them thoroughly.  In feathered horses it is often necessary to clip them to aid against moisture retention close to the skin. 

A topical treatment is often helpful.  Initially this could be one obtained from your local tack shop.  However if the lesions progress it may be that a vet needs to assess your horse.  There are other conditions that present with similar clinical signs such as mites or contact allergies, as can the condition leukocytoclastic vasculitis.  The vet can determine if there are any of these other compounding factors present and if antibiotic or anti-inflammatory treatments are required.  If you have any worries or questions about mud fever please contact us for some advice.

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Pete has looked after our event horses over the past few years and has played a crucial role in helping me to achieve my goal of competing at the London 2012 Olympics with ‘Happy Times’. The Dorset Equine Team are highly professional and a pleasure to work with.

Sam Griffiths, Australian Event Rider, Dorset

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