Pre­vent­ing urine scald

EQUUS - - Contents - Melinda Freck­le­ton, DVM Hay­mar­ket Vet­eri­nary Ser­vice Gainesvill­e, Vir­ginia

Q:My boy Daryl has a nasty case of scald on the front of both hind cannon bones. The vet­eri­nar­ian says it is be­cause he splat­ters his legs when he stales, and he gave me a sham­poo that didn’t do much good. What else can I do? Lynn How­land Maple Val­ley, Washington

A:How great to hear some­one use the term “stales.” It brings back mem­o­ries of the great horse­men of my youth! For those not fa­mil­iar with the word, it means “uri­nate.”

Healthy adult horses don’t of­ten get urine scald---ir­ri­ta­tion and scab­bing caused when urine splashes onto the skin. If Daryl’s skin prob­lem is truly scald, the first step is to rule out a uri­nary dis­or­der as well as pos­si­bly a phys­i­cal is­sue that pre­vents him from stretch­ing out fully when he uri­nates. But given that you’ve al­ready spo­ken to your vet­eri­nar­ian about this prob­lem, I am go­ing to as­sume your horse was ex­am­ined and he is OK.

Next, I would won­der about his bed­ding. Urine is more likely to splash far­ther when it falls onto harder ground. If you can give him deeper bed­ding in his stall, so that the urine no longer splashes onto his skin, he should heal quickly. I know this may be harder than it sounds, es­pe­cially if you are board­ing or if he avoids stal­ing in his stall.

If that doesn’t work, the next step is to ap­ply a pro­tec­tant to the skin that is get­ting splashed. Petroleum jelly or zinc ox­ide oint­ment (di­a­per rash medicine) forms a coat­ing that pro­tects the skin and en­cour­ages heal­ing. Gen­tly

clean and dry the af­fected ar­eas, and then keep a thick layer of oint­ment in place at all times. You should see im­prove­ment in two to three weeks. If Daryl is in an en­vi­ron­ment where he is go­ing to con­tinue splash­ing on him­self, you may need to keep ap­ply­ing the oint­ment in­def­i­nitely.

If Daryl’s skin wors­ens or does not im­prove with treat­ment over the course of a month or so, it may be time to call your vet­eri­nar­ian back out. Many skin prob­lems can look alike, so it is easy to mis­di­ag­nose some­thing on a first visit. A sec­ond ex­am­i­na­tion, per­haps with a biopsy or other di­ag­nos­tic tests, may be needed.

For ex­am­ple, cannon keratosis, a form of oily se­b­or­rhea , can easily be mis­taken for urine scald. This thick, greasy der­mati­tis is more com­mon in geld­ings and stal­lions, but it some­times hap­pens in mares, and it can be re­ally pesky to wipe out. In this case, you need the pre­scrip­tion sham­poo from your vet­eri­nar­ian, or a Be­ta­dine scrub, to break up the greasy coat­ing and kill

the bac­te­ria un­der­neath. This takes a long time to get un­der con­trol, but it is not re­ally painful or harm­ful in most horses. The key is to be per­sis­tent and gen­tle so that you don’t dam­age the skin as you treat the greasy crusts.

Good luck with car­ing for Daryl’s skin. It can be a chal­lenge to get to the bot­tom of this kind of prob­lem, but some per­se­ver­ance in treat­ment can do a lot of good!

ALL CLEAR: If a horse is able to stretch nor­mally, he is un­likely to de­velop scald—ir­ri­ta­tion and scab­bing that can oc­cur when urine splashes on the skin.

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