Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: Can feeding supplements help overcome the pastern dermatitis concerns with my mare?
By Laura Petroski-Rose, B.V.M.S.
In many cases of pastern dermatitis, where horses have crusty skin or scabs on the back of the pastern, store-bought salves won’t work. In fact, the lesions can worsen, causing frustration, discomfort and other health problems that can threaten the soundness and usefulness of the horse.
Pastern dermatitis is characterized by redness, irritation, crusting and hair loss on the back of the pasterns. Since there are multiple causes, including bacteria, fungi and mites, there is no single cure for dermatitis. Pastern dermatitis is also referred to as “scratches,” “mud fever” and “greasy heel.”
To identify the most common causes, a group of veterinary researchers compared 15 horses with pastern dermatitis with eight healthy horses in a recent study. A newly developed DNA-based test for detecting the bacterium dermatophilus congolensis, which is widely assumed to cause pastern dermatitis, along with microscopic analysis of skin scrapings and complete physical examinations was performed on all of the horses.
Despite being thought of as a common cause of pastern dermatitis, the researchers identified dermatophilus congolensis in only one of the horses with pastern dermatitis. In contrast, the miniscule mite chorioptes equi was far more prevalent, particularly in the feathers, which are long hairs that grow on the legs of some horses, especially those with draft heritage such as Clydesdales.
Four of the 15 affected horses (all feathered) had chorioptic mange, while none of the horses had any evidence of a fungal infection.
Treatment for mites and bacteria differ, making early diagnosis and targeted treatment by a veterinarian more preferable than presumptive treatment by the owner. This is especially true when considering that mites are not typically visible to the naked eye and the fact that dermatophilus congolensis can easily spread to humans.
In horses recovering from pastern dermatitis, feeding nutritional supplements that are designed to bolster skin health would be advantageous. Supplements containing EO-3, a potent marine-derived oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids (notably DHA and EPA) are helpful. In addition to supporting healthy skin and coat, the natural anti-inflammatory effects of EO-3 could help during the healing phases of pastern dermatitis.
Laura Petroski-Rose is a veterinarian with Kentucky Equine Research in Versailles, Ky.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine).
Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.
Click here to read Part 1 of the Aug. 1, 2018 installment: What are the most common concerns in providing key nutrients for improved hoof quality and growth?