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Equine Health Resource

Skin Seems Excessively Stretchy

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Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

    Connective tissue is an intricate webbing of proteins and other molecules that hold the skin to muscle and underlying tissue (subcutaneous tissue), and gives skin tissue different characteristics in different areas.

    There is great variation among individuals and breeds with respect to skin elasticity. Foals have very elastic and loose skin compared to adults. There is also great variation in elasticity and tightness to the body depending on location. There is almost no loose skin over the hindquarters, but significant loose skin in the armpit (axillary area).

    Dehydrated horses have skin that does not spring back after being pulled away from the underlying tissues. The natural springiness of skin tissue requires hydration.

    However, abnormally stretchy skin is also classically associated with Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia (HERDA). This condition is seen in certain lines of foundation Quarter Horses.

    WHAT TO DO

    For consistency, a good place to assess the stretchiness of the skin is over the point of the shoulder. Pinch this area and then compare your finding to a similar assessment in another horse. Do your findings radically differ?

    If you are unsure whether your horse’s skin is abnormally stretchy or you notice wounds or other abnormalities, share your findings and concerns with your vet.

    WHAT YOUR VET DOES

    Your vet can determine whether the elasticity of the skin is within normal limits or not, and can determine whether the horse has HERDA with a genetic test.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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