What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Hair Loss, Crusts or Scabs on Front of Hind Cannon


Matting, crusting and hair loss on the fronts of the hind cannon bones is common, and often diagnosed as a mild and non-painful condition known as Cannon Dermatitis or Keratosis (bacterial or fungal dermatitis). If the affected skin is white, photosensitization may be a related or differential diagnosis.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

your role


What To Do

Assess the affected area noting the location and size of the crusts or hair loss. You may try to treat this condition yourself by removing the hair and crusts and any scabs with a stiff brush. Once the majority of the material is removed, I recommend daily treatments for about a week. This consists of lathering the area up with an antiseptic shampoo, letting it stand 10 minutes, and rinsing and drying it well. Usually after 7-10 days, there is improvement and new hair can be seen returning to the affected areas. Cannon Keratosis may be unresponsive to treatment. It doesn't hurt the horse usually, but is unsightly.

If these lesions are not improving or if they are growing, you may want to contact your vet. Likewise, if skin lesions develop in other areas, the horse may have a more serious condition that warrants veterinary assessment.

What Not To Do

Do not use strong or undiluted disinfectants topically. These may cause more harm than good.

your vet's role

Upon examination your vet may find underlying causes for the condition and may even determine that there is more than simple cannon keratosis occurring. As for many skin conditions, definitive diagnosis of stubborn conditions may require skin biopsy.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Are there other areas of hair loss?
  • Do you notice any swelling or lameness?
  • Have you tried any treatments?
  • What treatments have you tried and how did they work?

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP