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


Flaky or Scaly Skin, Scaling Especially near Mane Base, but Anywhere


Dandruff or flaky skin can result from a variety of causes. During the healing process associated with many skin conditions, there is a period of flakiness (seborrhea).

A common location for flakiness is on the neck and near the base of the mane. Insect irritation (Culicoides) commonly affects the top-line skin and so should be considered when severe flakiness and irritation occurs here.

Genetics plays a role in propensity for dandruff to occur, as do a whole host of other factors, especially nutrition. This problem can be lessened or resolved with nutritional modification.

There are many products that may help reduce flakiness, including feed supplements and shampoos. The important thing to know is that this sign may have an underlying cause that needs to be identified and treated too.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the problem seems severe, or involves a large area.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • If the problem seems very mild and limited to a small area.

your role


What To Do

Examine the skin over the whole body, looking for other areas of flakiness, hives or hair loss. Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and pay particular attention to coat quality and body condition. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet will assess the horse's overall health and management, looking for underlying causes for the flakiness.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How is your horse's condition otherwise?
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • What areas of the horse's skin are affected?
  • Have you applied anything to the skin in the last week?
  • What is the horse's diet?
  • Do your other horses show similar signs?
  • Have you tried any treatments?
  • Were the treatments helpful?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP