What to do about horse dandruff 

 

So, you found some dandruff in your horse’s mane and/or tail, or even on their body somewhere. Find out why dandruff in horses happens, 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.

 

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What is dandruff in horses? 

 

  • Horse dandruff, also known as equine seborrhea, is a skin condition characterized by flaky, dead skin that sheds from the horse’s coat. It can be caused by various factors such as poor nutrition, fungal infections, allergies, or underlying health issues. Identifying the root cause is crucial in determining the appropriate treatment for your horse’s dandruff. Consulting with your veterinarian to diagnose and address the underlying issue is essential for effectively managing the condition.

 

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 must look deep into the mane.

 

  • 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 indicate a fatty acid deficiency in the diet or internal parasites. You may also see oily, flaky skin when mites are involved.

 

  • Primary seborrhea in horses is a skin condition characterized by excessive oil production, leading to flaky, greasy skin. It is often associated with genetic predisposition or hormonal imbalances in the horse and can manifest as dandruff, crusty skin, or an oily coat.

 

  • Some horses may decide that their dandruff is itchy – and then the rubbing begins. Use caution if your horse’s tack covers any rubbed areas.

 

 

horse-dandruff

This dandruff is on the lower leg. I can see dandruff come up as I curry comb, and it even falls like snow.

 

Is dry skin the reason for horse dandruff in the mane and elsewhere?

 

  • 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?

 

 

 

 

Rule out sweet itch

 

  • Sweet itch is an allergic reaction gone haywire to certain types of midges, also known 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. 

 

 

horse-dandruff

Around the mane and tail are common places for dandruff. 

 

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.

 

  • You may be tempted to use corn oil as a supplement – which will help add shine to your horse’s coat but doesn’t help with overall health. There are too many Omega-6 fatty acids in corn oil, which are pro-inflammatory.

 

flax for horses

Flax is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids for horses. 

 

How to treat dry flaky skin on your horse:

 

  • 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. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian; they 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 oil. In some cases, prescription shampoo may be needed.

 

  • Using horse conditioners to soothe the coat can be helpful, but ensure you rinse all of the product out to avoid irritating sensitive skin.

 

  • Topical treatments may also help, but like shampoo, they may require a prescription. This is more likely in the case of mites and lice. 

 

  • It may also be a case of “Oops, I keep forgetting to groom there.” Stepping up your brushing game may make a difference.

 

  • Remember to do some major laundry if you encounter bugs. They may also live in your blankets and saddle pads and easily jump to another person or horse. Blech!

 

Dandruff in horses – a thrilling video

 

Is it dandruff or sweet itch?

 

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Stock up here for your horse supplies! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but it’s ZERO extra cents to you.  You can also visit my Amazon storefront here:  PEG storefront.

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