Rain scald and Rugging - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 08-29-2013, 07:13 AM Thread Starter
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Rain scald and Rugging

Hi guys,

My gelding has a bit of rain scald on his back at the moment which is being treated, and the vet has suggested rugging him until it clears up.

Its summer here in Australia, and I feel very apprehensive about rugging him. Reading up on rain-scald, it seems like moisture makes the bacteria thrive and grow, so that means he would need a waterproof rug, right? But the waterproof rugs I have found are all quite heavy, and I don't want him getting hot. This is the rug I am looking at: Eclipse 1200 Denier Waterproof Turnout Rainsheet Horse Rug Combo

Any suggestions? Comments?
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post #2 of 13 Old 08-29-2013, 08:08 AM Thread Starter
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Woops I meant its LIKE summer at the moment...
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post #3 of 13 Old 08-29-2013, 05:31 PM
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Rain scald is associated with a bacteria that behaves like a fungal disease, it lives on the horses skin and becomes active when the horse gets wet.
If you blanket your horse and it gets sweaty then you run the risk of incubating the bacteria and maybe making it worse if he already has scabs and open sores
Rugging/blanketing works best if you do it before the horse gets wet so the condition doesn't start
I wonder if you could turn him out in a lightish cotton sheet on dry days for protection and stable him in wet weather until you have the problem under control?
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-29-2013, 07:39 PM
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Last time my horse had that I shaved him and that worked great! Looked a little funny though but it worked.
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-09-2015, 08:15 AM
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Rain scald or rain rot is totally a lack of Vitamin A. If a horse has a good immune system and is getting adequate amounts of Vitamin A, you cannot give them rain rot if you try.

Give him an injectable form of Vitamin A ORALLY. Just squirt it in his mouth. Then, put him on a supplement like Farnam's mare Plus that is high in Vitamin A and it will clear right up without treating it locally at all. The scabs just fall off and new hair comes in all by itself. With adequate levels of vitamin A, a horse will never get rain rot no matter what the weather is.

The very last thing I would do is blanket him and give the bacteria and fungi a snug home to multiply in.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-09-2015, 09:07 AM
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I have to disagree about it being totally a lack of Vitamin A. While vitamin A does play a role in skin health, chronic dampness can set up a situation for skin conditions to occur regardless of dietary management.

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-09-2015, 02:26 PM
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I can not IMAGINE rugging a horse with rain scald/rot. If I had been given that advice I would probably ignore that unless it is a sun screen or fly screen rug to shade the area a little but still let it breathe.
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-09-2015, 03:23 PM
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I agree with Cherie. My mare came down this rain scald shortly after getting her this year. I followed her advice to ORALLY give Vitamin AD in the amount of 5cc's and I also started my mare on Mare Plus until that container was gone. Within 4 days I could really tell a difference and new hair was growing in SO shiny! I now give all of my horses 3cc's of vitamin AD monthly to "keep up."

I would also not blanket him until the rain scald is clear.

Btw, I could not find vitamin AD locally. I ordered it from Valleyvet.com
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-10-2015, 08:20 PM
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Vitamin A is not the only factor in susceptibility to rain scald. Funny, last year someone was swearing blind it was only lack of Vitamin E that caused the condition, and Vitamin E supplementation was the only real answer.

Like many infections, multiple factors are at work in susceptibility - dietary ones including Vitamin A, Vitamin E, selenium, and a whole bunch of other trace elements involved in immunity; environmental factors like humidity and moisture, and genetic factors. You can spread a rain scald infection by brushing with a sharp-bristled brush, which creates little scratches in the skin into which the causative organism is thus introduced. Take that brush to another animal and you may well set up another infection. While the organism that causes rain scald is pretty ubiquitous, getting it directly into skin scratches gives it a head start. One of the reasons the rear cannons on a horse are a typical place for rain scald is that the condition is spread by biting flies - who also introduce the causative organisms directly into the skin - past the protective layer which usually forms a physical barrier.

Regularly wash and disinfect brushes, saddle blankets, rugs etc that are in contact with a horse with active rain scald - hanging them out in the summer sun to dry gives these items high doses of UV, which also kills pathogens.

The reason Vitamins A and E are a big factor for this infection in many horses these days is that many horses are now stabled/dry yarded and fed mainly on dry feeds. The vitamin content of fresh pasture is higher than the same pasture made into meadow hay. Vitamins A and E are fat-soluble and stored in the body, so in the dry season, wild horses will draw on what they accrued during the growing season. Supplementing horses to make up the shortfall is common practice in performance horse stables.

Treatment is also most effective if it's multi-pronged. If your horse is dry fed, definitely give it therapeutic doses of Vitamins A and E (and any other things it might be lacking - a good mineral/trace element mix doesn't go amiss), wash it repeatedly with a medicated shampoo targeted at this organism (you can get these at veterinary surgeries - don't assume any "medicated" shampoo will be helpful) - make sure the scabby areas get a thorough treatment, and gently remove what you can. Clipping can help, but the horse will then need to be sheltered from the weather.

Rugging can help, if it keeps a horse drier to rug it - but never rug with a non-breathable rug (you can get winter rugs that are waterproof and breathable, like mountain climbers' jackets). In summer, light cotton rugs (or shady trees, if the horse is inclined to a midday siesta) might be good during peak UV, since the scabby areas are UV sensitive and can get sunburnt. While UV also kills the causative organism, and in that sense exposure is good, avoid exposing to the point of causing burns to the damaged areas. If it rains, a cotton rug will get soaked though and worsen the problem.

Are you in Queensland / northern NSW / NT? Here in WA, rain scald is rare in summer due to our dry summers. If you live in summer-wet areas, it's a prime climate for getting rain scald infections. But do you know, some Queenslanders on an Australian horse forum swore by Listerine mouthwash as a helpful tool in treating the condition. They put it in spray bottles and lightly sprayed the affected areas daily (on top of using medicated shampoos etc). You could give that a go as well. Good luck with it!
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Last edited by SueC; 07-10-2015 at 08:27 PM.
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-10-2015, 08:42 PM
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You could try a rain sheet over a cotton Summer rug.
He shouldn't get too hot.

But reading your original post it seems that it's been two years has gone by, so I'm guessing it's cleared up? :)

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