There’s fungus among us—144,000 different types, to be more or less exact. They’re in your bread, your wine, your creamy mushroom pasta… but hopefully not your horse.
A fungal infection in horses can crop up in a couple of different places, from the skin to the hooves. As such, treatment plans look different depending on where the fungus has decided to fester. But most often, fungal infections in horses can be treated easily with an antifungal medication or treatment.
Read on to learn about these fungal infections and what to do if your horse starts showing symptoms.
Causes of Fungal Infections in Horses
Although there’s an incredible amount of fungi in the environment, only a few can actually cause infections. These can infect the horse in a handful of different ways.
The most severe infections, the kind that threatens internal organs, are typically inhaled or ingested through drinking water.2 Fortunately, these severe infections are pretty rare.2
The more common, surface-level infections are usually caused either by sharing equipment with infected horses or through an untreated wound in the horse’s skin.2 Fungal infections in the hooves can arise from cracks, lesions, or abscesses that allow the fungus to gather in a moist environment.
Types of Fungal Infections in Horses
Fungi are microorganisms, and they sometimes cause infections known as mycoses. Mycoses that can cause fungal infections in horses usually fall into one of the following categories: 2
- Superficial mycoses – Mild, typically fairly harmless infections usually caused by an existing health issue.
- Cutaneous infections – Infections of the skin, hair, hooves, and other tissue. These are common and usually surface-level.
- Subcutaneous infections – These infections affect similar parts of the body as cutaneous infections but are more serious and harder to treat.
- Deep mycoses – The most threatening infections. They typically affect the respiratory system and sometimes travel through the bloodstream.
The most common equine fungal foes are visible on the surface of the skin and hooves. You’re probably familiar with ringworm infection, which despite the name, is actually a cutaneous fungal infection.2 You can recognize it by the scabby, hairless patches of skin around your horse’s head, neck, and shoulders.
Another frequent fungus creeps in between the walls of the hoof material to cause white line disease. White line disease in horses appears as the titular white line on the sole of the horse’s hoof, sometimes accompanied by lameness or a hollow sound when the hoof is tapped.4
Treating Fungal Infections in Horses
Treatment for a fungal infection depends on what kind of infection your horse is experiencing. Severe cases with huge lesions or growths might require surgery. Antifungal medication is often prescribed, either as a shot or a topical treatment.2
If your affected horse has one of the lighter infections on their skin or hooves, here’s what to do:
Treating Skin Fungal Infections
If you want to know how to treat horse ringworm, girth itch, yeast, or any other fungal skin disease, start by using a medicated antifungal shampoo.3 Vetericyn’s FoamCare medicated shampoo is a perfect anti-fungal example. Spray the shampoo evenly over the horse’s coat and lather to get down deep to the skin. Be sure to completely rinse the soap off before drying.
Next, clean all tack and grooming tools with a fungicide to ensure the infection doesn’t come back or spread to other horses.3
Take extra precaution as many of these infections, like ringworm, are zoonotic and can transfer to you, your family members, or other pets.2 Take preventative measures while treating your horse by wearing gloves and long sleeves and washing your hands thoroughly. Additionally, if you are immunocompromised in any way, it’s best to have someone else treat the infected horse for you.6
Treating Hoove Fungal Infections
Minor hoof infections on the surface can usually be treated topically.5 Coat the hooves in a treatment like Vetericyn Hoof Care to purge the fungus and apply it regularly as needed.
For infections that have crept deeper into the hoof, you will need a more robust treatment. Powerful chemical solutions like Vetericyn Hoof Soak can penetrate into the infected hoof cavity and begin the healing process. Mix the medical powder with water and let the hoof soak for 40 to 60 minutes. You should be able to see the infected material purging from the hoof.
If you need help diagnosing a hoof problem, or if your horse is showing signs of lameness, seek out help from an equine veterinarian.
Preventing Fungal Infections in Horses
While troublesome, fungal infections can be easily prevented. Follow these tips to decrease your horse’s chance of becoming infected:
- Don’t share tack or grooming tools between horses 3
- Treat wounds with an antifungal spray like Vetericyn Plus
- Quarantine new horses brought to your stables 3
- Practice good hoof hygiene with this horse hoof cleaning guide 5
- Keep living environments clean and dry 5
Fight Horse Fungal Infections with Vetericyn
While fungus is welcome in some places in our lives, fungal infections in our horses are never welcome. Kick them to the curb when they rear their ugly heads with Vetericyn.
Treat your horse to the high-quality health it needs and deserves. Trust the experts at Vetericyn to deliver products that help you achieve it.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. Fungus. https://www.britannica.com/science/fungus
- The Horse. Demystifying Fungal Infections of the Equine Hoof. https://thehorse.com/193738/demystifying-fungal-infections-of-the-equine-hoof/
- Veterinary Microbiology. Fungal diseases of horses. http://www.bariparasitology.it/Root/File/Dinamiche/Volantino/847/volantino.pdf
- Equus Magazine. Watch out for 8 common equine skin diseases. https://equusmagazine.com/horse-care/common-equine-skin-diseases/
- AAEP. How to Manage White Line Disease. https://aaep.org/sites/default/files/issues/proceedings-06proceedings-z9100106000520.PDF
- CDC. Ringworm. https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/ringworm.html