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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Diagnosis of Skin Disorders in Horses

By Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD, Professor of Dermatology, Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison ; John E. Lloyd, BS, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Entomology, University of Wyoming ; Bertrand J. Losson, DVM, PhD, DEVPC, Professor, Department of Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liege ; Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD ; Patricia A. Talcott, MS, DVM, PhD, DABVT, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Toxicology, Holm Research Center, University of Idaho ; Alice E. Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP, Director;Director, Animal Oncology Consultation Service;Pawspice ; Patricia D. White, DVM, MS, DACVD ; Thomas R. Klei, PhD, Boyd Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Advanced Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine and Louisiana Agriculture Experiment Station, Louisiana State University ; David Stiller, MS, PhD, Research Entomologist, Animal Disease Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, University of Idaho ; Stephen D. White, DVM, DACVD, Professor and Chief of Service, Dermatology, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital; Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis ; Carol S. Foil, DVM, MS, DACVD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine

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A precise diagnosis of the causes of a skin disease requires a detailed history, physical examination, and appropriate diagnostic tests. Many skin diseases have similar signs, and an immediate diagnosis may not be possible. Based on your horse’s history and the physical examination, your veterinarian may order any of a number of laboratory procedures. These may include microscopic analysis of skin scrapings and hair, cultures of skin swabs, blood and urine tests, and even biopsies. It may take several days before laboratory results are available. Your veterinarian may also evaluate how your horse responds to treatment in order to diagnose a specific skin problem. More than one visit is often required for an accurate diagnosis.