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Sunburn Protection for Horses

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When the summer begins and everyone is planning a trip to the beach, sunscreen is one of the first items to go in the shopping cart. Protecting yourself from the sun is very important, but many people don’t consider that sun exposure without protection can be dangerous for horses as well. Keep reading to learn which horses are most at risk for sunburn and how to prevent it!

Horses Most Affected by Sunburn

Horses with areas of pink skin are most likely to get sunburned. These fall into the following categories:

  • Horses with white facial markings
  • Bald-faced horses
  • Paints and Pintos
  • Double dilutes (cremellos and perlinos)
  • Appaloosas

Melanin (Pigment) is what helps protect skin from the sun’s UV rays. This is why pink skin (which has no melanin) is more vulnerable to sunburn.

Signs of Sunburn

Just like with humans, it is easy to spot skin that has been exposed to sunlight for too long. Keep a lookout for the following signs:

  • Redness
  • Blistering
  • Peeling, scaly skin
  • A horse that suddenly becomes head shy
  • Skin that has become extremely painful to the touch

If sunburn occurs, there are several products that can ease the pain. It is recommended to use a topical wound salve, aloe vera, or a diaper cream containing zinc oxide.

Sunburn Prevention

While we can’t completely block out the sun to keep our horses comfortable, we can outfit them with adequate sun protection. Full-face fly masks, sun protection sheets, and UV-resistant leg protection are all dependable devices. These can be purchased online or at most tack stores.

Carolina Equine Hospital   

Do you suspect your horse may have been overexposed to the sun? Give us a call for some sun-care advice. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm, and have an emergency vet on call 24/7.