Can My Horse Get Sunburned?

Courtesy of Barn Chats by Vetoquinol

Sunny days are upon us and although soaking up rays provides a good source of Vitamin D, you and your horse can suffer from too much of a good thing. As you reach for the sunscreen this summer, don’t forget your equine friend. Here are a few helpful tips:

Provide shade – This may sound obvious, but providing adequate tree shade and well-ventilated stalls during peak sunshine is the simplest way to help your horse avoid sunburn. Save the riding for early morning or later in the evening to avoid excessive sun exposure.

Apply sunscreen– Lather a high SPF cream generously especially on your horse’s muzzle and on lighter skin tones and spots throughout the body. You can find horse-specific sunblock, use a product formulated for sensitive skin, or use zinc oxide.

Cover up – Think of it as a beach cover up and provide your sun-loving horse with a lightweight sun-blocking garment. For the face, a fly mask with good UV protection can be quite helpful. You’ll feel good knowing they aren’t getting burnt and they’ll appreciate your extra consideration.

Treat minor burns– If your horse spends too much time in the sun, treat their skin as you would your own. Keep them out of the sun, make sure the area is kept clean and apply aloe as needed for comfort and healing. For blistering skin or anything beyond minor burns, contact your large animal veterinarian as soon as possible as this can be a sign of more serious health conditions.

Don’t forget water– Is your horse drinking 5-10 gallons of water every day? Be sure to provide enough fresh drinking water to keep them hydrated on long summer days. To further replenish sodium, potassium and chloride, you can also offer an additional water bucket including electrolytes to help prevent dehydration.

Following these tips will minimize sun exposure and help keep your horse healthy and happy this summer.