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Can Horses Get Frostbite?

Updated: May 8, 2023

Frostbite is a burn caused by excessive cold and is most frequently found in young, sick, or injured horses living in climates with very cold winters. Horses that are ill and lying on wet ground are particularly susceptible. The area most often affected is the ears, but the tail and feet can become frostbitten as well.

To help prevent frostbite, the horse's legs should not be washed any more than necessary during the winter months. When they are washed, they should be dried immediately. Of course, young, sick, or injured horses should not be left outside in severe weather to lie on wet ground. Horses that are pastured outside during the winter should be well-fed and healthy and should not be pastured on water-logged ground.

In treating frostbite, the affected area should not be rubbed with snow or massaged, as either action will only increase the extent of the damage. Instead, the affected area should be soaked in warm (110-115*F) water for 15-20 minutes and/or covered with blankets for warmth.

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