Learn about horse skin health with Nutrena and Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
When it comes to your horse, keeping its skin healthy is a must. Horses can have many skin health issues on a daily basis. Location, environment and seasonal changes can all factor into your horse’s skin issues. With the help of Nutrena experts and Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can learn all about horse skin health.
Five Skin Zones
Before getting too deep into skin issues, it’s important to understand your horse’s skin makeup. The skin is actually the body’s largest organ, making up 12-24% of your horse’s body weight, depending on age and species. The skin if made up of five different zones:
1. Dermis – It supports and nourishes the epidermis. The dermis consists of cells, fibers and nerve plexuses.
2. Basement Membrane Zone – Its primary function is to attach and act as a barrier to the dermis and epidermis. There are several factors, such as autoimmune conditions, that can affect the health of the basement membrane zone.
3. Epidermis – The epidermis is covered in hair, and is the skin’s first line of defense. Nutrition, hormones, tissue factors, immune cells and genetics can all influence the overall health of the epidermis.
4. Appendageal System – Hair follicles, sebaceous and sweat glands are all part of this system that grows with the epidermis. Hair growth can be impacted by factors such as hormones, sunlight and nutrition.
5. Subcutaneous Muscles & Fat – This skin zone serves many purposes, such as shock absorber, insulation and a reservoir for hydration.
Horse Skin Issues
Typically, horse skin problems can fall into one of five categories:
1. Traumatic Skin Issue – Skin wounds from environmental hazards like fencing, barn structures or other objects around the farm.
2. Granulomatous Skin Issue – If a wound goes untreated or unnoticed following an injury.
3. Nodular Skin Issue – Seasonal conditions or allergic dermatitis from flies and ticks.
4. Pruritic and Alopecic Skin Issue – Contact dermatitis from plants, chemicals or gnat bites. Lice and mange can also contribute to this kind of skin issue.
5. Nonpruritic and Alopecic Skin Issue – Also known as “rain scald,” or “rain rot,” from prolonged exposure to environmental conditions.
Preventing and Combating Horse Skin Issues
There are plenty of ways to prevent and combat horse skin issues. Quality management and care and a regular grooming routine are crucial for keeping their skin healthy. Grooming supplies and equipment should be cleaned between horses. If one horse does have skin problems, designate grooming supplies and horse tack to that specific horse.
Nutrition also factors into horse skin health. Access to quality water and enough water are vital for horse skin health. A balanced diet of essential amino acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6, minerals and vitamins are also crucial for overall health.
It’s also important to keep up with routine cleanliness and prevention. Keep manure away from the horse barn, stalls or paddocks. In the barn, use fans and remove standing water to keep away insects. During peak insect seasons, use fly sheets, fly bonnets and horse-safe insect repellent.
There are also skin health treatments available. Always consult with your local veterinarian before starting a skin health treatment on your horses.