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Terrible Dandruff - what can help?

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  • Terrible Dandruff - what can help?

    My horse has really bad dandruff in his mane and tail. Big flakes - like 1/16" flakes coming out of his mane three times a week. It's worse in the winter, but there year round. His tail has bigger flakes that just don't seem to be able to escape the hair (which he has lots of).

    It's freaking cold here so any kind of washing is not an option until April or May (I might be able to do just his tail on a warmish before that). I did try giving him flax a couple of years ago, but had to stop due to gastric issues with it. He also seems to be sensitive to fats (gastric issues again) and has been doing well in that sense since I reduced the fat in his diet. There hasn't been an increase in dandruff without the fat.

    May be relevant (or not) but every time he scratches, or cuts his lower legs he ends up with skin fungus (fungal form of mud fever) around the wound site over a larger area than the original wound.

    He is also the itchiest horse I have ever met (you should see some of the things he has wanted me to scratch him with! ) but I attribute that to the skin flakes stuck under his very dense coat. Healthy Haircare's Skin and Coat Conditioner seems to help the itch a bit, but not reduce the dandruff significantly.

    Any ideas? With spring coming the poor guy is going to turn us into this https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=1&theater

  • #2
    I used mane & tail leave in conditioner on my guy and it lasts a couple weeks until the dandruff comes back and then I remember to put it in again...lol. I have heard feeding a small amount of wheat germ oil helps dandruff but I guess that would not be an option for you.


    • #3
      I would also double dose him with Equimax for neck threadworms (can cause itching all over), sometimes after the deworming there are little bumps all over, (larvae killed and erupting through skin). Repeat in two weeks. For the flaking skin, give flax seed, if seeds and you are grinding, just grind enough for each day, or keep refrigerated if a bag. I used to give them the whole seeds but the hulls are tough and they don't break down easily so much is wasted.

      If you want to read more on neck threadworms, here is the thread.

      "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


      • #4
        I second threadworms.

        My guy came to me flaky - he had dandruff everywhere - on his skin, in his mane. I bathed him once a week head to toe with Head and Shoulders, and he was started on Platinum Performance CJ.

        Stopped the shampoo around late November. He's lost the dandruff and gotten very shiny.
        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


        • #5
          I had a rescue pony that I picked up this summer in very similar shape. Omega HorseShine did the trick in less than a month. His skin settled and the dandruff stopped...along with the itching.

          He was also very wormy when we got him, and went through a long, slow deworming process. Once we had his parasite load completely under control, the Omega Horseshine was sufficient to regenerate healthy skin
          Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


          • #6
            Once its waqrm enough to bathe him, get dandruff shampoo - can be CVS, Target, Wal-Mart, etc same stuff as Head N Shoulders and half the cost.

            wash the mane, tail, body, etc and leave it in for 10 minutes before rinsing. Do this several times a week at first, then you can taper off. It really does work.


            • #7
              The skin is one of the first things to show nutritional deficiencies. You need to look at diet and what is missing, not some special shampoo which really doesn't CURE the problem.

              If your horse has been properly wormed at proper intervals, then you need to add a skin/ coat vitamin such as flax, biotin, orgound flax.

              If you give one cup of ground flax per day, you'll probably never have dandruff or skin problems again.
              "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


              • #8
                Your horse sounds like he is missing something major in his diet, most likely EFAs. What type of GI "issues" does he experience with flax and other fat supplements? Were they added gradually and in small amounts to start? Making any change to a horse's diet must be made gradually. Some are much more sensitive to changes than others.

                All horses need EFAs (essential* fatty acids) daily which are obtained naturally through grass/pasture. If there is not enough grass/pasture available, EFAs should be supplemented either through a fat supplement or a good quality concentrate fed in the correct amount for his size and activity level.

                *"Essential" means the horse can not produce it himself and it (whatever "it" is) needs to be supplied by the diet.


                • #9
                  Yes, it sounds like this horse has a nutritional issue and/or an allergy issue.


                  • Original Poster

                    Yes, I think he's missing something nutritionally too. Daily he's getting 5 lbs of a feed that has 6.5% fat. I'm supplementing vitamin E to bring it up to 1000 i.u./day, and selenium to bring it up to 1 mg/day.

                    With the flax I tried adding a stabilized ground flax to his feed, and at a different time tried a feed that has a lot of flax in it with a total 12% fat content (he was having issues on 1 lb of this feed a day). Both times he got gassy and produced excess liquid with his manure (irritated hindgut). There was over a year between these two trials. Flax is not an option for this horse.

                    He's not itchy in the way neck threadwormy horses are. He wants me to scratch him, he doesn't do a lot of self scratching outside and has never scratched/rubbed himself raw. I did wear out a Shed'n Flower on him in two days last spring. The last two summers I caught him rubbing his crest on trees about the beginning of August, dewormed him with ivermectin, and the crest rubbing stopped. There was no change to the degree of dandruff.

                    Someone suggested wheat grass as an alternative to flax. Anyone fed it to their horse?


                    • #11
                      Drop the selenium unless you know what is in your hay and feed and that the horse is (tested) deficient. Why would you not deworm for threadworms in case it could be that, it is not harmful and it may help? Ivermectin does not kill threadworms and you cannot test for them.
                      "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                      • #12
                        I stood right there and listened to the vet tell someone to get Selsun Blue shampoo for a bad case of mane dandruff. Long time ago admittedly.
                        I've also bathed the old guy in generic dandruff shampoo for his first baths of the season. The old guy will self scratch, but he wants his tummy rubbed and it's hard to find a good object for that.

                        There may be other health issues manifesting themselves via a sensitive skin, such as the rain rot, and of course you want to eliminate any of those, but if you have the vet out you might wind up with good old fashioned coal tar shampoo or MTG. I don't care for the MTG myself, I prefer the generic people dandruff shampoo, preferably with conditioner.

                        This is about the right time of year for your fecal and deworming - why not consider the Equimax?
                        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                        Incredible Invisible


                        • #13
                          Flax does make some horses gassy. I wouldn't worry about it unless they were colicky, JMO. It also sometimes takes them a while to adjust to it. An alternative to flax is BOSS, though many people no longer find it in flavor - you could always supplement with something like a rice bran oil. I really love the Platinum CJ my guy is on - it has made such a distinguishable difference it's unbelievable.. He has an injury he's recovering from and the extra glucosamine and omega fatty acids have really made him bloom. But the Platinum is flax based, I believe.

                          Mine farts like there is no tomorrow. Usually when someone is behind him.
                          AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                          • #14
                            Buy large bottle of original flavor Listerine. Apply liberally to mane and leave in. Be careful to apply only to top of tail, and don't let it run underneath tail to anus where it will burn. Leave on top of tail.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                              There may be other health issues manifesting themselves via a sensitive skin, such as the rain rot, and of course you want to eliminate any of those, but if you have the vet out you might wind up with good old fashioned coal tar shampoo or MTG. I don't care for the MTG myself, I prefer the generic people dandruff shampoo, preferably with conditioner.

                              This is about the right time of year for your fecal and deworming - why not consider the Equimax?
                              We're actually not due for deworming considerations for another 2-3 months up here. I am thinking of trying the double dose of Equimax at some point (maybe the spring round if his fecal is okay). I should be able to try dandruff shampoo around about that time too!

                              beowulf, it's not so much the gas but the excessive liquid coming out with the manure. Flax irritates his hindgut. I've heard good things about Platinum Performance, but I will have to check on the flax content - thanks for the heads up.

                              Thanks cloudyandcallie - I had forgotten about listerine. That I can probably manage in our sub zero temperatures.


                              • #16
                                Well was going to suggest flax, but guess not! My mare was constantly itchy and flaky until I added 1/4c of whole flaxseed to her diet. Maybe you can find something with high fat/omega 3? Check Smartpak.


                                • #17
                                  When I purchased my gelding at age 8 he had chronic issues similar to what you're describing. He is almost 21 now and has a beautiful shiny, dappled coat. This was not always the case and I tried a variety of treatments to help eaze his suffering, from very expensive creams to steroid injections (which btw I was not crazy about due to side effects but at the time seemed the only solution) Fast forward a few years and many $ later & I'll say the absolute best thing for him is OMEGA HORSESHINE. It's easy to feed, palatable, and great shelf life. I tried flax seed but was having gastric issues also don't like the shelf life issue once ground. I will not go without my OMH. Also, groom often, in summer that means daily. Winter-as needed. He doesn't particularly enjoy being groomed when it's cold but I make an extra effort to brush atleast the mane (skin area) and top of tail to help bring up natural oils. I stopped Omega Horseshine once when I ran out and thought I'd see if I could go without...within a month he was rubbing himself raw again...so I never let it run out now. Also have seen improvement in hoof. Hope this helps.


                                  • #18
                                    OMH is largely flax based, so if he is sensitive to flax, that will not work for him. That was my initial suggestion as well, as it has done wonders for the rescue pony I have that was in similar condition.

                                    Be careful with topicals, as you do not know the underlying cause. If this is being caused by insufficient EFA's, adding a topical like Listerine will cause further drying and chapping and flaking. Listerine is fabulous if the underlying issue is fungal or bacterial overgrowth.

                                    I would investigate alternative EFA sources, such as Rice Bran or wheat germ oil. Fish oil is another great alternative, but it is expensive and he will smell like a sea monster... Not sure what brand of feed you are using, but you can contact Southern States... they have done a great job of adding EFA's to their feeds, and have plenty of options to accommodate sensitivities and avoid those specific ingredients.
                                    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Just wanted to add an update for anyone who might find this thread in a future search.

                                      I had my vet run some bloodwork in the spring after an in depth discussion of his itchiness. He came back very low (but within range) for selenium and below normal range for vitamin E. I was supplementing vitamin E, but some products are not as bioavailable as other so I switched to Elevate, a KER product, and gave him 2000iu of vitamin E per day. Within two weeks the current fungal mess on his lower leg was clearing up. At this point (two months on Elevate) he is no more itchy than a normal horse and the dandruff is hugely reduced. New scratches on his lower legs have not developed fungus.

                                      When the vet comes for his fall vaccination I will have her check his vitamin E and selenium levels again just to verify that the Elevate is responsible for the changes.


                                      • #20
                                        Glad things are better! If you decide to add fat back to the diet, I'd try chia seeds. They are very soothing to the hindgut, and a great source of omega-3's. Good luck!!