This past month (summer of 2015) we have been dealing with a case of horse scratches, also referred to as dew poisoning. Rovandio (Andalusian/Lipizzan cross owned bymy mother-in-law) is a very special horse, he loves to perform and he is my special partner for my Art on Horseback paintings. I put him out with Douwe on grass for just one hour to get them started in a new paddock. The next day I saw a tiny spot on Rovy's back leg but I thought it was a simple injury, not scratches. So back out in the grass they went on the second day for another hour. Third day, BAM, scratches on all three of Rovy's white legs.....it is certainly true that it will only show up on the white legs because his one black leg was perfectly fine. At this point I realized what was happening and we started researching and treating him.
It has been many, many years since I have needed to treat a horse for scratches so I went online to find the best treatment, natural if possible. I was amazed at all the different options and concoctions that people have used to treat scratches. We experimented with Vitamin E oil, pure Aloe Vera, pure Silver Spray, and even pure Coconut Oil before figuring out a system that cleared his scratches up within a week. We found that Tea Tree Oil, Raw Honey, Aloe Vera Wipes, Gauze and Vetrap worked really well. I wanted to share this with you in case you are looking for a natural alternative to the harsh creams and sprays.
1. Keep the legs DRY! It is very important that the horse does not get re-exposed to the same pasture that infected him or a wet environment. Keep him in a dry, dirt paddock and/or a stall until the scratches are fully healed.
2. Wear latex gloves to keep yourself protected from the fungus and to apply the honey, it can get messy! I bought these at my local Rite Aid.
3. Clean the area with Aloe Vera baby wipes. These have to be natural and fragrance free! Some of them also have Vitamin E Oil in addition to the Aloe Vera. These work really well to softly clean and moisturize the area. If your local grocery store doesn't carry these you can order them online at Amazon or find them at a health food store.
4. Use straight Tea Tree Oil, be careful not to contaminate your supply. We poured some into a separate dropper bottle to protect against spilling. Tea Tree Oil is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. To read more about the benefits of Tea Tree Oil click here.
5. Spread Manuka Honey (click here to learn more) or Medi-Honey (click here to learn more) all over the scratches. It is important to use a high-quality, raw honey because it will have medicinal properties. This will be messy but you want to make sure to cover everything. Quote from the HoneyCentre.com website:
"For external slow healing wound conditions, Active Manuka is applied to the wound,then dressed with a suitable bandage. What is truly marvelous about honey and in particular Active Manuka Honey with a 10+ or 15+ or 20+ non peroxide rating is that when applied externally, the honey draws healing fluids and nutrition to affected areas which creates a natural thin layer of moisture on the wound surface. So when bandages,dressings are removed, new regrowing tissue is not damaged and healing is more rapid.
A study in the European Journal of Medical Research in 2003 claimed Active Manuka Honey used under dressings on post operative wounds had an 85 % success rate in clearing up infections compared with 50 per cent for normal antibiotic creams."
6. Take off your latex gloves at this point. Make sure to discard them immediately with the Aloe Vera wipes so you do not risk exposing another horse to the fungus.
7. Wrap the area with roll-on gauze. This will create a sterile layer between the honey and the Vetrap.
8. Wrap the area with Vetrap. This worked really well to keep the flies off the honey and to keep anything from sticking to it.
9. If you want to let the legs breathe in between wrappings you can clean them with the Aloe Vera wipes and then spray on pure Silver. Click here to learn about the benefits of Colloidal Silver...
We were able to leave the wraps on for a full day or night before changing them. It was amazing each time I took off the wraps to find the area moist and healing every day. The honey softens the scabs, allowing you to clean it more effectively. This will replace the need to scrub the scratches with harsh cleaners and water. Use your Aloe Vera wipes to help clean the area after you take off the bandages and start over again with the Tea Tree Oil.
Due to the fact that Rovy has never had scratches before, we had a feeling that his immune system must be running low. We had his saliva tested by the Art of Natural Healing and she was able to pick the correct homeopathic remedies to help him fight off the fungus. This was crucial, since a horse will have difficulty healing if something is weak internally. You can also take a skin swap to the vet office to determine whether it is a fungus or a bacteria and target your treatment accordingly. If you are interested in having your horse's saliva tested you can send me an email at email@example.com and I will email you their contact information.
From beginning to end this entire process was just under a month. His hair is growing in and he is fully recovered at this point. I believe that we could have greatly shortened his recovery if we started with this strategy from Day One. If you have any further questions or would like to share an alternative treatment please comment below. I love to learn and share my experiences with you!