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


Skin is Dry or Flaky, Anywhere on Body


Dandruff or flaky skin (either in localized patches or widespread), can result from a variety of causes including poor nutrition, allergies, insects, or even an undiagnosed low-grade illness. The most important thing to know is that dandruff is usually caused by some underlying disorder of the skin, often allergy. Because of that, it is important to think about other conditions that might be affecting the horse.

  • 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

Often, dandruff can be improved with symptomatic treatments (meaning that you solve this problem without definitively determining the cause), by adding certain oils to your horse's diet or treatment with anti-seborrheic (dandruff) shampoos. However, if the dandruff persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other illness, you will want to contact your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not leave shampoo residues on the skin, as it may worsen dandruff.

your vet's role

Your vet will consider the horse's general health and the presence of underlying skin disorders, especially allergy, before simply treating for dandruff. Additional diagnostics like skin biopsy may be required to determine the inciting cause. Only with a definitive diagnosis of what underlies the dandruff can the more stubborn cases be treated effectively.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Where, specifically is the skin problem located?
  • Does the horse's general health seem good to you otherwise?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Has anything changed in the horse's environment, such as feed, bedding, or housing?
  • What is the horse currently being fed?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP