There are several different fungal infections that can afflict horses, from ringworm to "grunge". Depending on the type, there are several fungi treatment options, and most are available over the counter without the need to call a vet. However, if a horse is lame from fungus, a veterinarian is essential.
Identifying the Fungus
The first step in treating a horse for fungus is to identify the type of fungal infection present. The fungi treatment will vary depending on your findings, and using the wrong treatment can cause burning of the skin and lameness.
Ringworm, for example, usually presents as scaly patches on the horse's skin, which will eventually develop into raised welts in a circular shape. Grunge refers to the type of fungal infections common during southern summers, and present as scaling and small bumps along the fronts of the legs and up across the haunches.
Treating a horse for fungus usually takes several weeks, though it is easier to eliminate fungal infections in horses when the animals are kept in dry, clean environments.
The first step is typically to bathe the horse with a mild equine anti-fungal shampoo. Horse owners can find these products in any feed and tack store or they can be purchased directly from a veterinarian. It is important to look at the directions on the bottle to ensure it is appropriate for treating the type of fungal infection the horse has.
It is also possible to treat grunge fungal infections with a process called "scrubbing". To do this, the horse should be bathed in the equine anti-fungal shampoo, but the lather should be allowed to sit for about ten minutes so the fungi can soften. The horse owner should then rinse the legs and spend about fifteen minutes rubbing each fungal patch with an abrasive sponge.
Some horse owners treat fungal infections with a technique called "blistering", which involves soaking the infected area in Listerine and wrapping the legs overnight. This is extremely painful for the animal and is considered inhumane by many. Never attempt this method unless advised by a veterinarian.
Complicated Fungal Infections
In some cases, if a horse owner fails to treat fungal infections in time, they can fester and bleed or become infected. If this happens, the area should be treated the same as a cut or laceration. Over-the-counter ointments such as Neosporin can help stave off infection and speed the healing process.
Other ways to treat a horse for fungus complications include:
- Hosing the area for 10-15 minutes to reduce inflammation.
- Wrapping the area in gauze to keep it clean and dry.
- Placing the horse on stall rest to avoid injuring the area further.
- Calling the veterinarian.