How to prevent mud fever?

By Wendy Talbot on 23 February 2018

How can I prevent mud fever? For the most part it’s all about keeping the legs clean and dry:

Avoid muddy paddocks

Try creating several smaller paddocks, using electric fencing and rotate these during the winter to help prevent the ground from poaching. Place woodchip, matting or road chippings in gateways to make some firm, dry ground or make two gateways for each paddock to reduce traffic over the same path every day.

Provide a dry stable

Wood shavings or wood pellets are best for keeping legs dry and irritation-free in the stable but be aware some horses may be allergic to some products so it’s advisable to change the bedding if the condition does not improve.

Don’t keep washing legs

While you need to keep the legs clean it can be counter-productive to wash them repeatedly as it can remove natural protective oils and cause the skin to weaken, making it more susceptible to bacteria. If you do need to wash legs warm water is recommended and make sure they are dried thoroughly afterwards. Often it is best to wait for mud to dry and then brush it off.

Be careful about covering legs

Using wraps, boots or bandages consistently may increase moisture retention and retain warmth around the legs, which is exactly what mud fever likes. They may also damage the skin and make it more vulnerable to infection.

Check your horse’s legs daily

Spotting the earliest signs of mud fever and taking prompt action can help stop a flare up in its tracks.

Not all cases of mud fever are due to mud!

In some rarer cases horses can develop signs of mud fever despite their environment being clean and dry.  These horses will often have an underlying predisposing cause which will need investigating by your vet.

Related blog posts

Find out how to treat mud fever

References

BlueCross

Wikipedia

Liphook

Anthony (2013) pastern dermatitis. Vet Clin Equine 29 (2013) 577–588

Comments

DR WENDY TALBOT BVSC CERT EM (INT MED) DECEIM MRCVS


Wendy graduated from Bristol University in 1999. She then went on to complete a residency at Liverpool University and holds a European Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. After working in practice for 13 years, she joined Zoetis in 2012 as the National Equine Veterinary Manager.

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