A closer look: Peeling or Sloughing Skin in Horses
This symptom is uncommon in horses, but horses with open skin sores are at risk of developing secondary bacterial infections. Horses with peeling or sloughing skin require prompt veterinary care to begin treatment. Horses that show symptoms such as swelling of the limbs and small red spots on the gums require immediate veterinary intervention, as they may have the life-threatening condition strangles (purpura hemorrhagica).
The severity of sloughing is directly related to the surface area that is covered by the peeling/sloughing. This can range from a small patch of skin to multiple limbs/areas affected. Horses that have large areas affected are typically very painful.
Testing and diagnosis
After completing a physical examination and medical history, a number of tests can be done to determine the underlying cause, including:
- Blood work
- Skin biopsy
- Testing for viral or bacterial disease
Treatment will vary based on the cause of the sloughing but can include:
- Stall rest
- Surgical debridement of dying tissue
- Hydrotherapy (cold hosing)
- Topical wound treatments
Peeling or sloughing skin is usually self-evident, and is not easily confused with other symptoms.