Mud fever in horses

Mud fever in horses

Mud fever is something that many horse owners dread but what is mud fever and how can we prevent it?


What is mud fever?

Mud fever is caused by bacteria that lives and thrives in wet, muddy conditions and is often at its worst during the autumn, winter months when our horses are exposed to long periods of time in these damp conditions. Constant exposure to the moisture in the fields and when we wash our horses’ legs, softens the skin which weakens the skins natural defence to infection. Once this barrier has been weakened the bacteria can penetrate and the infection can grow.

How to spot mud fever

Mud fever can be easy to diagnose and can be seen clearly in areas that are vulnerable to wet conditions such as heels and lower legs.

Signs of mud fever…

  • Heat
  • Hair loss
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Crusty scabs
  • Small cuts
  • Lameness


Prevention is better than the cure. The simplest way to keep mud fever at bay is to keep horses’ legs clean and dry, mud fever is unable to penetrate healthy skin so maintaining this is vital.

Trimming horses with heavy feathers can make the job of drying legs much easier and faster and their skin will be much more visible if treatment is needed.

Avoiding mud is easier said than done, however, there are many products on the market that can help keep skin dry and protected such as neoprene boots and wraps and waterproof creams and gels.


Be vigilant, spotting mud fever early can make treating the infection much easier and faster, causing less stress and irritation to your horse.

If you spot mud fever, there are creams, gels and shampoos that can relieve soreness and help support your horse’s skin.

Washing the infected area with antibacterial Hibiscrub will ensure the area is clean. Once this has been thoroughly washed off, ensure your horse’s legs are completely dry before adding any further ointments or boots.

If you are in any doubt or have any concerns call your vet.

Click HERE to view our mud fever products.

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