The sun's rays can be a serious problem for your horse during the hot summer months. Horses have sensitive areas such as ear tips, muzzle, eyes, flanks, and white socks that can be sunburned from exposure to the sun. Pink skinned areas on legs, back, and shoulder blades are particularly susceptible to painful sunburns that can cause blistering and soreness.
It is a good idea to keep horses stalled during the heat of the day and then turn them out when the sun goes down. Good ventilation and cool, shaded stalls are necessary or, at least, an area with a shade tree. This is especially important for horses with light skin or white spots. Although darker-haired horses aren't usually as sensitive as the lighter breeds like Paints, Pintos, and Appaloosas, the sun's rays do not affect all horses the same way.
There are sunscreen products available and a mask or blocking sheet may be a good idea. Always be sure to read the label and any instructions if you choose to use a sunscreen for your horse. These can still let sun's rays in and it is a good idea to check with a veterinarian to be sure the product you are using is sufficient for your horse.
Be sure that your horse is treated quickly if a sunburn occurs so that they don't get an infection. Keep the sunburned area(s) clean and be gentle when working around the wounded area. If bumps, cracking, blistering, or bleeding develops, it is important to call a veterinarian. You may want to discontinue use of grooming products and fly sprays until the horse has had time to heal.
What your horse eats may cause sensitivity to the sun. Some drugs and plants like clover, rye, buckwheat, and St. John's Wort can cause photosensitivity. If you feel your horse has this sensitivity, it is a good idea to discuss this with your veterinarian as they will want to do some blood work and a full history on the animal.
It is important to be aware of possible sunburn on your body as well as that of your horse. Take the necessary precautions. Also, watch for St. John's Wort in any product you may be using on your horse as it may contribute to photosensitivity.
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