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Agnes Banks Equine Clinic
5 Price Lane
Agnes Banks, NSW, 2753
Phone: (02) 4588 5200
Contents of this newsletter

01 All about greasy heel

02 When was your horse's last dental check?

01 All about greasy heel

A common skin problem seen during the wetter months is greasy heel, also known as mud fever or pastern dermatitis.

This condition is painful for horses and owners alike. It can cause discomfort and lameness in the horse, and can be very difficult for owners to treat as the condition can be quite persistent and tricky to get rid of. Horses that have pink skin and white hair on their pasterns are the most predisposed to the infection. Another major predisposing factor is standing in constant wet and muddy conditions.

Presenting as painful thick, crusty, yellow scabs around the back of the heels and the pastern, greasy heel is most commonly seen on the hind feet but can occur on all four. In severe cases, it can spread around the front of the feet and extend up the legs, the skin becomes thickened and inflamed (red), and the legs swell up.

Greasy heel usually involves a bacterial infection in the skin. Cases that are not resolving with standard treatment may need further testing to ensure there is not another underlying cause such as mites, fungi or immune mediated conditions.

Treatment initially involves clipping the hair away and washing the legs to remove all mud, followed by keeping the horse housed in dry conditions. Soaking and scrubbing the affected areas with an antiseptic detergent such as chlorhexidine to soften and remove the scabs is critical for killing the bacteria. Scab removal may need to be done in stages to avoid hurting the horse. Scab removal and washing should be followed by drying the legs and then applying a topical cream obtained from your veterinarian.

If you're worried about your horse this winter, give us a call.

02 When was your horse's last dental check?

Regular dental care is a vital part of good horse husbandry, and just like people, all horses should have a complete dental examination performed at least once a year.

Dental problems can have a negative effect on performance, behaviour and overall health. Some signs that could indicate an underlying dental problem include:

  • Behavioural problems
  • Weight loss or poor body condition
  • Quidding (dropping partially chewed food out of the mouth)
  • Bit resistance or head tossing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Bad breath
  • Swelling of the face or jaw
  • Purulent, smelly nasal discharge

However, as a prey animal, horses are very good at hiding any sort of dental pain, so you won’t necessarily know that anything is wrong in your horse’s mouth until the problem is very severe and painful. This is why it is so important to ensure regular and THOROUGH dental examinations are performed. A thorough visual and manual examination must involve: sedation, a dental gag, light, and dental mirror, in order to carefully assess each and every tooth in the mouth.

Abnormalities that we may identify include:

  • Sharp, overgrown teeth, often with associated cheek or tongue ulcers
  • Abnormal wear e.g. wave mouth
  • Missing teeth
  • Fractured or diseased teeth
  • Extra teeth
  • Dental caries
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Diastema (gaps between teeth) and feed packing

So if it's been a while since we last asked your horse to "open wide", please give us a call to arrange a checkup.