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Sun Sensitivity in Horses

Sunshine is beneficial to the average horse. It helps relax strained muscles, makes dozing conditions extremely comfortable, and can alleviate common conditions such as muscle soreness in an overworked animal. At the same time, sunlight can be detrimental to horses who have pink skinned areas. In equines this is often found on the nose, and is especially common in paints and lighter colored horses. Overexposure can lead to sun burn, which in turn puts a horse at higher risk for skin cancer as he ages.

Zinc-oxide cream is the answer to this problem. It is safe for horses, and helps heal any skin irritations. Some owners use human brand sun screens on their horses, and while most are safe and effective, certain animals may experience an allergic reaction. This is usually caused by the fragrance additives found in sun tan lotions. Just to be on the safe side, it’s better to stick to products geared towards children.

Sometimes human grade lotions are more cost effective than the equine versions. Why pay $15 for horse lotion when your over counter $6 Water Babies works just as well. With this reasoning in mind, before you liberally slather your horses nose, test the product first on a small area, and watch for signs of irritation. During the evening apply the cream on the back of the pastern, and if there is no swelling or skin disturbance in the morning, then try it out on a part of the horse’s exposed pink skin. Dab on a small amount, and keep the area covered minimal.

If the skin looks red, a rash develops, or it just looks “angry”, stop using this product. Continuing to do so may lead to a severe reaction such as blistering, and oozing skin. The skin eruption may even resemble a sun burn. Do not continue using the lotion, as the reaction will get worse. It can lead to scabbing, and even skin loss which translates into expensive vet bills if left unchecked.

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