Summertime "Fun"

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What a summer it's been so far! Here in the Northeast, We've had abnormally high rainfall and abnormally high heat.? it's a recipe for disaster for humans, animals and vegetation (lots of noise around here about higher hay prices. Ugh!).

On our farm, We've had to shave the Persian barn cat due to horrible hair mats--he was a rescue and we couldn?t keep him in the house because he fought with the other cats, so he was put on mouse duty.? And He's pretty mean, so brushing him regularly was never a fun thing to do . . .

We had trouble getting into the pasture to get it mowed?too much rain?so the field got too tall, which caused all sort of skin bumps on the horses.? We've had a hoof abscess that thankfully resolved quickly, and even our spare tack has had to be cleaned more frequently due to the high humidity. (OK, I know moldy tack is a ?blessing? because it tells you that your leather is well-nourished and healthy, but you sure don't want to ignore it and let it penetrate into the leather.) But lately it seems to be work, work, work.

And, worst of all for me, my mare developed skin disease between her forelegs and into the girth area, so no riding.? We haven't had to battle skin disease on her for years, but this year certainly set the stage for it.? It isn?t to a level where I needed to get the veterinarian in because I caught it quickly (don't wait when you see something, as it can spread all over the body quickly).

I initially thought it was a fungal infection and was treating it as such. When I didn't see any improvement four days, I asked my husband to look at it, and he thought it was bacterial. Now, we're making progress. The antibacterial nitrofurazone cream he suggested is doing the trick.

I know some folks really over-react when it comes to getting rid of skin problems, and they throw everything but the kitchen sink at the infection. Certainly, a full body bath is in the first thing in order. For overall skin irritations, a gentle shampoo, like Orvus or Corona, is the way to go.? But if you're dealing with a bodywide problem that's red and inflamed, you may need the ?umph? of a medicated shampoo, like ChlorHex, EQyss Microtek or Absorbine?s Medicated Shampoo.

Be careful about what you apply to the actual infected area. Skin is easily damaged by the wrong topical treatment. Straight bleach can burn. ?Lime sulfur, another old-time remedy, can be toxic to the animal, if used incorrectly. (The concentration and duration for lime sulfur should be determined by a veterinarian.)

There are safe, effective over-the-counter topical treatments you can use: Chlorhex 2X, Ketochlor, EQyss Microtek, and Vetericyn are among our recommended products. Vetericyn is expensive enough to be called ?liquid gold,? but it's very broad-spectrum and effective, providing both antiseptic and wound-healing capabilities.? Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller DVM discussed it in his series on skin problems in July and August 2012. ?Vetericyn is a strong oxidant that can kill pathogens?bacteria, fungus, viruses?and bring oxygen to damaged tissue, which hence potentiates healing.? ?Of course, if you don't see progress in five days or so?or if you see worsening!?call in your veterinarian.

Yes, the summer of 2013 has been challenging so far, to say the least.? But, still, even after I've finished the stalls, hay, water, feed, painting the cracked hoof, applying the skin cream, inspecting for bumps and swellings, sweeping the barn aisle, combing the cat (to avoid more mats!) and all the other chores we all do every day without thinking, tHere's no place I'd rather be than in my barn. Yup. Even in the heat or pouring rain.