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Mud Fever in Horses: Signs, Causes and Remedies

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

A horses leg affected by mud fever

What is mud fever?

Endless rainy days have become a typical feature of winter, meaning our horses are more likely to be spending time in wet, muddy paddocks, which can increase their risk of developing mud fever. Mud fever, also known as greasy heel or scratches, is a common skin condition in horses that is caused by bacteria entering the skin through cuts or abrasions on the legs.

What are the signs?

You can spot mud fever in horses by looking out for some telltale signs. Watch out for areas of redness, swelling, and itching. Sometimes, the skin might appear scaly or even crusty and tender when you touch it. In more serious cases, you might notice blisters or ulcers forming, and your horse could start limping or seem uncomfortable while moving.

So how can you avoid mud fever? Avoid leaving your horse standing in wet and muddy conditions for long periods.

Adopt good grassland management by rotating fields if possible to reduce poaching and …

avoid washing your horse’s legs when you bring them in from the field.

Mud fever treatment.

Prepare your horse for treatment. Get your horse in out of the wet conditions and clip the hair away from the back of the heels. This will let you remove mud and apply ointments to treat the skin. Use fine clipper blades to clip the hair right down to the skin. This will also let you check the area for new scabs and monitor the healing of existing scabs.

You may want to stable the horse for a few weeks on clean dry straw.

When treating mud fever, you should keep the areas of infection clean and dry and use an antiseptic solution to eradicate the bacteria and prevent infection. You can also apply a thin layer of Vaseline to the affected area to keep it moisturized and prevent further irritation. Keep your horse's legs clean and free of mud and waste matter, as this can help stave off the mud fever from developing in the first place. If the condition isn't improving or appears to be getting worse, talk to your vet for further advice and treatment.

For more detailed information about mud fever and how to treat it: Visit the link below.


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"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."

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