Otherwise known as mites can cause extreme itching and irritation to your horse. It can also cause secondary infections due to traumatisation of the skin. Mites cannot be seen by the naked eye, so the vet may suggest doing a skin scrape to confirm their diagnosis but sometimes they can be unrewarding. Recognising the clinical signs and considering the breed, can often be enough to determine that your horse has a mite problem. Mites are most common in heavily feathered horses as it provides an ideal breeding environment. Mites can be passed from horse to horse and through the environment which can make it a very frustrating condition, but the cycle can be broken through good management.
- Biting behind the knees
- Rubbing against posts/ other legs
- Hair loss
- Scabs/ sores
All treatments for mites are off license and normally derive from a cattle drug. Ideally, we want to reserve the use of injectable drugs for severe cases, where even with good management the horse is still suffering. After a discussion with your vet they may suggest starting with a topical treatment which kills the mites on the skin and can be applied by yourself. This may be in the form of a spot on/ spray or leg wash. Whether it is a topical or injectable treatment it will have to be repeated around two weeks to break the breeding cycle of the mites. In the case of mites preventative management is as important as any treatment and the following strategies should be attempted before/alongside treatment.
Management of the Horse:
- Ideally remove all feathers as short as possible, check for sores and clean with dilute hibiscrub
- Use barrier creams
- Avoid contact with horses that have a mite problem or treat the horses at the same time.
- Turnout as much as possible
Management of the Environment:
- Avoid straw – Ideal is rubber mats with paper mucked out daily
- Disinfect the stable following treatment and leave empty for three days so the horse is not reinfected
- Clean rugs/ grooming equipment and do not share between horses
In order to have the most effective success rate treatment should complement management. If you think your horse is suffering with mites please contact the practice to discuss with one of our vets 01535602988.