EQUUS - - Conversati­ons -

Why some horses de­velop cel­luli­tis while oth­ers don’t isn’t well un­der­stood, so it’s im­pos­si­ble to iden­tify defini­tive ways to pre­vent the in­fec­tion. “Some­times in a horse that had some der­mati­tis or we find a small scratch, we sus­pect that was what set it off,” says Mar­garet Mudge, VMD, of Ohio State Univer­sity, “but there are many horses that have mild der­mati­tis or lots of cuts and scrapes that never de­velop cel­luli­tis.”

Nev­er­the­less, tak­ing some ba­sic pre­cau­tions to pro­tect the skin on your horse’s legs will not only keep him health­ier and more com­fort­able, but might just help you ward off this ter­ri­bly painful in­fec­tion:

• Clean and dis­in­fect even the small­est of wounds. “As soon as you no­tice any­thing ab­nor­mal, it should be treated promptly and ap­pro­pri­ately,” says Meg Ham­mond, DVM, of Wood­side Equine Clinic in Ash­land, Vir­ginia. Call your ve­teri­nar­ian for help with deeper, more se­ri­ous wounds.

• Max­i­mize turnout and/or get the horse reg­u­lar ex­er­cise. Mov­ing around stim­u­lates healthy cir­cu­la­tion in any horse, but it’s es­pe­cially crit­i­cal for those prone to cel­luli­tis.

• Keep the skin dry. Muddy, sloppy turnouts

Go easy on the shampoo. Over-ex­u­ber­ant soap­ing up will dry out skin and may lead to crack­ing.

• Groom care­fully. Re­mov­ing long hair on the legs can help keep the skin drier, but be care­ful not to scratch the horse with the clip­pers. Also use only soft brushes and rags on the legs.

• Ster­il­ize groom­ing and bathing equip­ment pe­ri­od­i­cally. Newer wash­ing ma­chines have a ster­il­iza­tion op­tion that can heat rags and tow­els to a tem­per­a­ture high enough to kill most bac­te­ria and other pathogens. Brushes and other tools can be ster­il­ized by scrub­bing them with soap and wa­ter be­fore soak­ing them in a bleach so­lu­tion and lay­ing them in di­rect sun­light to dry. Avoid shar­ing tools among horses, es­pe­cially if one is prone to chronic cel­luli­tis.

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