What do you recommend for horses with who are prone (even with good preventive care) to rain rot?
– Thanks, R
Rain rot, or dermatophilosis, is a frustrating skin condition because some horses just seem to get it each year no matter what you do. There are a number of reasons for this. First, Dermatophilus congolensis, the organism that causes rain rot, is “opportunistic.” That means it’s constantly in the environment, just waiting for conditions to be right so it can cause infection. The right conditions are a break in your horse’s skin AND enough moisture for it to grow. That’s why rain rot is most often seen during the wet season in whatever part of the country you live in and on the top parts of the horse (withers, saddle area, rump).
Experts think some horses have an inherited natural resistance to the organism. In other horses, it causes infection either because their skin is not healthy to begin with or the entire animal is debilitated, either from parasites, poor nutrition, another infection or cancer. Work with your veterinarian to make sure your horse is healthy inside and out to reduce his chances of another episode of rain rot this year. And don’t overlook the value of daily grooming or omega-3 fatty acids to help keep his skin healthy.
I’m sure you’ve got your treatment regimen down: get the horse out of the wet environment, bathe him in povidone-iodine shampoo or other medicated shampoo until healed, and remove the painful “paintbrush” crusts as they soften. To help prevent reinfection, make sure you keep the surroundings as scab-free as possible, so don’t just drop crusts into the stall or aisle. Also, use iodine or other products to disinfect any tack or brushes that come into contact with the horse during an active infection. By following these tips, huge numbers of the organism won’t contaminate your barn and equipment.