Why Does My Horse Have Dandruff?

Almost all of us have had dry, flaky skin on our own heads at some point in life. Usually, it’s unsightly but no big deal, and nothing a good washing with medicated shampoo can’t solve.

And chances are, flaky skin on your horse is the same thing – dandruff, or primary seborrhea. Better regular grooming practices or a bath with medicated dandruff shampoo for horses will usually knock it out. But when is dandruff not just dandruff? It can be indicative of another problem, and if it suddenly appears on a horse that has never had it, flaking skin may warrant a call to the vet.

Secondary seborrhea – which can dry and flaky or more “waxy”, oily dandruff – can be indicative of a more serious problem on the rise, like gastrointestinal or liver disease.

And while flaky skin on your horse can certainly be just plain old dryness, it may also indicate the presence of lice or mites. Especially in the mane and tail, lice thrive because of the dark environment. Your veterinarian can advise the best treatment option, but be prepared to do some laundry! To prevent the spread of lice or mites, wash all blankets and grooming tools thoroughly in hot water.

While flaking skin is usually not a problem, call your veterinarian if your horse has a sudden onset of either dry or waxy flaking skin. It never hurts to ask!

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