If you look closely at the hind cannon bones of 5 in 10 horses, chances are you will find patches of grey greasy dirt scattered on the front. In lay man’s term, these patches are referred to Cannon crud. If we go by the medical term, it’s called CANNON KERATOSIS. Most horse owners mistake these patches of grey dirt as fungal infection or splash of urine on the hind legs of there horses. Cannon crud is neither a fungal infection or a presentation of urine splashes, it’s actually the aftermath of excess production of keratin in the horse.
Cannon crud, otherwise known as Cannon keratosis occurs when there is excess production of keratin. This skin condition arises when excess keratin accumulates on the skin and dries up on the hind legs. Cannon crud might even be seen on your horse’s ears, face or above the hocks. The skin condition isn’t limited to the hind legs alone.
WHAT CAUSES CANON CRUD?
As rightly stated, Cannon Keratosis is a skin condition that affects the lower leg region of a horse, mostly the front of the rear cannon. Cannon keratosis presents itself as patches of grey, greasy dirt and usually results in hair loss at the affected part if not taken care of. While the main cause of Cannon keratosis is still unknown, studies show that the skin condition is likely caused by genetic predisposition or combination of several environmental factors.
As far as Cannon keratosis is concerned, no age, breed or sex of horse is left out. So Cannon keratosis isn’t as simple as urine splashing on the hind legs of your male horse. More than often, Cannon keratosis is predominant in the thin-skinned breeds of horses which includes the TB crosses and Thoroughbreds. In most cases, Cannon crud doesn’t irritate the affected horse though in rare cases, the skin condition may worsen and the affected area swells up, becomes painful and irritating. This will likely occur when bacteria has infected the damaged and compromised skin.
While Cannon crud doesn’t bother most horses, if left unchecked or untreated, it will build up over time, thereby causing hair loss in the affected area. The legs of a horse affected by this skin condition will often appear clear after a bath but the greasy stain will reappear moments later when dirt accumulates on the remainder of the grey patch.
While the main cause of this skin condition remains unknown, there are simple effective ways to prevent the build up of cannon keratosis.
HOW IS CANNON CRUD DIAGNOSED?
Cannon crud is diagnosed by examining the horse’s legs, looking for the appearance of patch of grey, somewhat greasy dirt centered on the front of the cannon bones.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PREVENT THE BUILD UP OF CANNON CRUD?
The first step to prevent the build up of cannon crud is to loosen the crud. This can be achieved with a grooming tool, rubbery curry, a scrubbing brush or your fingernails. In the case where the buildup is hard and loosening is causing hair loss, simply apply skin lotion and wait a while for the lotion to soften the crud before losing it.
Once the crud has soften, loosen it to better clean the legs deeply. Wash the affected legs with Neem shampoo by applying the shampoo directly to the legs. You can experiment to ascertain what works best for your horse. Though one bath session isn’t likely to remove the entire cannon crud, you will surely see noticeable changes.
After washing the affected legs, dry the legs with a towel. Mind you washing the legs of your horse is a good habit to build if your horse has cannon crud or not. Many skin conditions that affect horses are sensitive to wetness, so you need to pat the legs dry.
With little experimentation, you can put your horse on a regular washing schedule to put the symptoms of cannon crud under check. You might have to alter your grooming routine a while to make the hair at the affected region loosen up to allow easy penetration of your treatment options.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR CANNON CRUD?
Most horse owners do not consider treating Canon crud so far the affected area doesn’t irritate the horse or cause any discomfort. But when the affected area becomes painful, inflamed or swollen, infection kicks in and treatment becomes compulsory. Before it gets to that, you should treat the skin condition.
Contrary to the popular conception that there is no known treatment for cannon crud, Happy horse will have your horse’s skin looking great, almost as though it were not affected by cannon crud initially. Most horse owners argue that there is no real treatment for Cannon Keratosis, that’s not entirely true. Some horse owners prefer to use rubber curry to remove debris and extra hair. Some even try periodic removal of debris and crusts as well as periodic cleansing with anti-dandruff shampoos to help manage the condition and improve the appearance of the legs. Some experts even suggest the application of topical steroid creams and anti-dandruff creams.
The first thing to do is to invite your veterinarian to check your horse’s legs; he may suggest the right regimen to clean the legs and also advise a topical product to use to keep the legs clean. As far as cannon crud is concerned, there are lots of protocols and treatments to help treat this skin condition. The good news is these protocols and products will treat this condition and at the same time the abundance of these protocols and products is also bad news for horse owners. This means that a horse owner may have to try different products before stumbling on the right and effective method to treat the skin condition in your horse. A quick advise; while you are trying different treatment methods avoid scrubbing the legs excessively as that will aggravate the condition. Also avoid using products not designed for topical use in order not to cause more harm to your horse.