The skin is in constant contact with all organs of the body. Internal problems are reflected on the outside. And while shampoos and grooming products can help maintain the coat and mane, a truly shiny coat comes from within. In this article, find out why true health comes from within. The role of nutrition and how to keep your horse’s skin healthy.
Skin: the largest organ in the body
There are four elements that contribute to a horse’s health and radiant appearance:
- healthy intestinal flora
- proper diet
- Psychological health
- Dress care
The skin is the horse’s largest organ and serves to protect it. The skin is composed of water, proteins, fats and minerals. The skin consists of two layers: the stratum corneum (epidermis) and the corium (dermis). Its pH is determined by the top layer. Your horse’s skin is an important part of its natural defences. It protects it from heat and cold as well as bacteria and other harmful invaders.
Our skin has a normal pH of 4.0 – 5.5. The pH of horse leather is 7.0 – 7.4. This is why it is important to prevent an imbalance of pH, which is neutral in the case of the horse, in order to avoid infection. Low pH products, such as human shampoos, are hydrophilic in nature. They attract moisture and dehydrate the horse’s skin, leaving it dry and scaly. Products with a high pH are hydrophobic: they affect the natural lipid layer and disrupt the microflora of the skin.
Like human skin, horse skin is not sterile. It is a breeding ground for the development of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. These have an essential function: along with the skin barrier, they expel unwanted substances. Thus, they help protect the skin in a natural way, thus protecting the rest of the body. They also prevent colonization of pathogens, also known as bad bacteria. The microbiome plays an important role in wound healing. If the microbiome is out of balance, the risks of skin diseases and infections increase. This can be due to the wrong shampoo, cleanser or excessive use of antibiotics, for example.
Nutrition: an essential partner
A balanced diet has a greater impact on coat health than you might imagine. Deficiencies can deteriorate the quality of skin and hair. This is because skin and hair need building materials to grow and repair. Diet changes can cause skin reactions.
It may seem obvious to give your horse a balanced diet. But the reality is often different. When we talk about a balanced diet, it means:
- 1.25% minimum of body weight in the feed
- Supplement with concentrates if additional energy is needed
- In the absence of concentrates, additional vitamins and minerals are necessary
- The horse should receive small portions of roughage throughout the day. Here, the magic word is “regularity.”
A word about these vitamins and minerals. Forage alone does not provide enough vitamins and minerals for a horse. The latter must obtain it through a supplement or concentrate feed. In fact, it can have a significant impact on a horse’s skin and hair, as well as its general health. The proportions of copper, zinc, copper and iron affect the pigments and thus the color of the coat. In addition, many minerals and trace elements interact with each other. Deficiency of vitamins and minerals always leads to health problems.
Disturbances of the intestinal microbiota
Disturbances in the intestinal flora can cause the coat to become dull. Intestinal bacteria interact with many body systems. One of them is the immune system, which is a complex system that allows a horse to be (and stay) healthy. Without a healthy microflora, it is nearly impossible to keep your horse healthy and radiant. Forage is essential here too, thanks to the fiber the horse consumes. Prebiotics and probiotics can have a positive effect on horse microbiota (just as they can on human microbiota).
Frequent travel, contact with many different and unknown horses, exposure to diverse environments. All of these factors have an impact on a horse’s mental health. Having a certain amount of stress does not harm the horse; In fact, a small amount of stress is necessary to perform well. But mental balance is one of the most important components of equine health. For a healthy, radiant horse. Avoid exposing your horse to stressful situations as much as possible, give him enough contact with other horses and make sure he gets regular physical activity.
A healthy intestinal flora, balanced diet, and adequate exercise are the three components of a horse’s health. A healthy horse will shine!
Tips from Cavalor skin care experts
Create a personal care routine
Good grooming stimulates circulation, removes dirt and dead hair, and ensures an even distribution of oil throughout the coat. There are different types of brushes for different purposes, so it’s definitely a good idea to use more than one.
Massage to improve blood circulation
Massage is often prescribed by kneading the hands, but did you know that grooming has the same effect? Massage releases endorphins in the body. Endorphins have a calming effect and are sometimes called the “hormones of happiness.” Massage also stimulates blood circulation, which improves the transport of nutrients and oxygen to the cells. In addition, they facilitate the detection of sensitive areas and/or wounds. So take the time to massage your horse after work! This makes it easier to eliminate any waste (after working out, for example) and promotes relaxation and stress reduction.
Shower with pH neutral products
Low pH products, such as human shampoos, are hydrophilic in nature. They attract moisture and dehydrate the horse’s skin, leaving it dry and scaly. Good bleaches and degreasers have a high pH and hydrophobic nature: they absorb natural sebum, making the coat dull and the skin dry, sensitive and opening the door to infection. Bathe your horse with pH neutral products, adapted to the pH of the horse’s skin! All Cavalor shampoos are pH neutral.
Don’t delay in treating scaly skin
Shiny hair is healthy hair. But sometimes your horse may have flaky skin, a dull coat, or suffer from a skin condition. So speed is essential! Wash your horse with a sanitary shampoo that contains chlorhexidine. It is preferable that it be rich in glycerin, such as Cavalor Derma lotion. Cleanses while maintaining skin hydration. Your horse’s coat will soon regain its shine. Does your horse suffer from a skin condition such as a yeast infection? In this case, do not forget to properly disinfect your equipment, saddle pads and brushes.
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