Rain Rot: What’s That All About?

I had never heard the term rain rot in the same sentence with horses. In my mind it sounded like something to do with the rain rotting wood. What I found was that it is a bacterium called Dermatophilus ssp. It is already on the horse and doesn’t cause any difficulty until it rains. Hence the name rains rot. Since I have been writing a series of rain related posts here I thought I would include a health related dilemma that needs rain to become a problem.

What Are the Causes?

Horses that are already in poor grooming condition are most likely to get this skin irritation, but not always. When it is going into winter the horse is growing their winter hair. If the weather is cold and rains a lot this is a recipe for the bumps to appear and become open sores.

It’s not only the rain that can trigger the skin malady, but humidity plays a part too. With the two in cahoots it makes the bacteria grow into bumps that inflame and scab and spread over the horse’s back and rump. This is painful and needs attention as soon as it is noticed. In fact the faster the skin irritation is spotted and treated the better.

What To Do:

If a veterinarian is called in they may use penicillin as one method. If trying to treat the case on your own or if you decide to not do anything, rain rot will progress through its phases in a few days to around a month. I’ve never, as yet, dealt with this skin irritation, but on a personal note I would want to do what I could right away and not wait to see if it will clear up on its own. It is plenty painful and I wouldn’t want my horse in pain for any length of time if I can do something to help.

Some suggestions to relieve the scabs are to daub mineral oil on them, gently. Wash the area with a medicated shampoo. If the scabs won’t come off put more oil on them; don’t force them off by scrubbing because it will cause more pain and discomfort. Keep the area clean and dry so that infection won’t set in and make the whole thing worse.

How To Prevent:

There is prevention for rain rot and it’s something we should do for our horses nearly every day if possible. It is to give them a good grooming. If not able to groom every day, try to brush and curry at least two to three times a week. I have read that rain rot is not contagious, but can be carried over to other horses if using the same brushes on multiple horses. Each horse should have their own set of brushes.

Always consult a veterinarian when in doubt about any health issues your horse may be experiencing.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I’ll do my best to answer.

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