In a previous post on the subject of mud fever/mud scald/rain rot, we covered how to deal with the problem in most cases. In this article we’ll continue to look at another method that is “over the counter” to tackle the more persistent infections and deal with it quicker. While both methods work, and in fact are very similar, the idea in the end is just to eradicate the bacteria as quick as possible.
Along with the picture in the last article on it, here is another picture of some aggressive mud fever on both legs of the horse. In this case the back left was swollen and quite warm to the touch which shows that the infection is quite bad. It was likely very uncomfortable and even painful for the horse at each step.
In this case, both legs had some serious issues going on, but the left was the worst.
Again, the idea is to clear off as much as both you and the horse can manage with, without causing open wounds. In some cases you’ll only be able to pick away at the edges as the center of it all may be far too tender and built up. It won’t be long before you’ll be able to deal with that too.
Once you have the scabs cleared off as best as possible, you can then move to treatment. The recommended solution is Betadine in this case. You can buy at most tack stores that have a medical area, but it’s far cheaper to just buy it at the local pharmacy at half to one third the cost. It’ll likely be better quality too.
While you can squirt it on or pour it on from the bottle, it’s important really to just get a decent covering of the wound. For this, a simple spray bottle works well as you can apply the pressure of the spray to get the betadine right in there. While Betadine isn’t bad to leave on, it’s generally recommended to rinse it mostly off after about 20 minutes. Here is a good application on a well picked pastern
From there, dry off with paper towel and liberally apply good quality zinc oxide cream. This is also known simply as “diaper cream”. Again, pick up at local pharmacy as there are two different versions. The higher amount of zinc oxide, the better. The normal kind will work ok though.
Once you have done that, leave it for a couple of days. This will depend on if your horse can move around much in a pasture or stuck in a paddock, but the cream will wear off and the scabs will have formed again in that time. Continue the above method every couple to three days until gone. In most cases you should be able to have most of it gone in a couple of weeks. If you’re diligent about it then success will come faster, to let it sit longer and grow again or on other parts of the leg will just take longer. If you’re at it longer than a month, it’s highly recommended to get a hold of your vet. You want to anyways, but if you’re cost sensitive then be patient unless you see it getting worse.
On a side note, while going about this, make sure to check along the leg up higher for any tiny bits that may form up. This is common for the infection to be starting to take hold elsewhere. Small scabs may not be noticeable to the eye, but can be readily felt with your fingers and finger nails. The skin should be smooth, without roughness or bumps.
Again, while this is a guide to another way to deal with aggressive mud fever, it’s not a replacement for your vet’s advice. When in doubt, give them a call to make sure you’re doing the best for your horse that you can. Mud fever hurts and can make a horse lame, quite quickly in the right conditions too.
In the above pictures, within 2 weeks 70% of the infection was gone, the final 30% took another 2 weeks. Swelling of the leg was gone after that first 2 weeks and it was a matter of managing the last bit as the horse’s system was now able to take over the healing process without an infection working faster than the internal healing system. Keep in mind that a poor diet can contribute to this as the immune system weakens without proper minerals in place. Make sure to keep food regularly available and supplement if the hay/grass being provided doesn’t have all the horse needs. Which in fact, is common nowadays.