What to do about horse dandruff
So, you found some dandruff in your horse’s mane and/or tail, or even on his body somewhere. Find out why, and then you can treat the problem at the source. Horse dandruff can have a few common causes, and it’s important to bring your veterinarian into this problem if you can’t easily figure this out.
Causes of horse dandruff
- Causes of horse dandruff include lice, mites, insect bite allergies, parasites, dietary deficiency, or just plain old dryness, among other things.
- Lice are those tiny little bugs that live in the manes and tails of horses, and sometimes people. You may be able to see them with the naked eye or with a magnifying glass deep towards the roots. Lice prefer the dark, so you need to look deep into the mane.
Around the mane and tail are common places for dandruff.
- Mites are also little buggers, which usually live on rodents, but have jumped ship to your pony. Great. You may see dry, flaky skin coming off, which can be a sign of a fatty acid deficiency in the diet or internal parasites. You may also see oily, flaky skin when mites are involved.
This dandruff is on a lower leg. I can see dandruff come up as I curry comb, and it even falls like snow.
Is dry skin the reason for your horse’s flakes?
- Dry skin might just be in the cards for the dandruffy horse, or it could be weather-related. Arid climates and cold winters bring drying air.
- How’s your horse’s grooming routine? Are you REALLY spending enough time with your curry comb?
- Have you stripped his natural oils from his coat with dish detergents or household cleaners or too frequent baths?
- Does your horse have an underlying disease that makes him dry and dandruff?
Rule out sweet itch
- Sweet itch is an allergic reaction gone haywire to certain types of midges, also know as no-see-ums or gnats. This reaction to the midge bite creates a chain reaction of allergy, itch, scratching, and skin opening.
- Sweet itch in horses is usually seen on the dorsal side of your horse – the top side. From nose to tail is the preferred buffet for these tiny gnats. While dandruff can be anywhere on a horse, sweet itch is usually just on the top side.
Your horse’s diet might also be contributing to dandruff.
- Our great friends at Kentucky Performance Products shared their knowledge about skincare for horses, and this is what they say about dry skin and dull coats:
“Certain nutrients, such as omega fatty acids; the trace minerals zinc, copper and iodine; the essential amino acids lysine and methionine (found in high-quality proteins) and the B vitamin biotin, must be present in the correct amounts in a horse’s diet or skin, hooves, and hair will suffer. Getting the right balance is key, more is not always better. Take selenium for instance. This trace mineral must be properly balanced in the diet, too much selenium can cause toxicity which leads to hair loss in the mane and tail, among other symptoms.”
- Chat with your veterinarian or equine nutritionist to find what supplements are right for your horse. Find one with great Omega 3’s.
Moral of the story:
- The moral of this story is that to treat, you need to find the cause. Then, the right shampoo, lice treatment, or diet change should help you out. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian, he can help you determine the best treatment after determining what could be causing dandruff.
- There are soothing shampoos available for horses, look for ingredients like tea tree. In some cases, prescription shampoo may be needed.
- Topical treatments may also help, and just like shampoo, may need to be a prescription. This is more likely in the case of mites and lice.
- It also may be a case of “oops I keep forgetting to groom there”. Stepping up your brushing game may make a difference.
- Don’t forget to do some major laundry if you come up with bugs…they may also live in your blankets and saddle pads, which could easily jump to another person or horse. Blech!
Dandruff in horses – a thrilling video
Is it dandruff or sweet itch?
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