Is Vitiligo in Horses Related to Copper Deficiency?

Vitiligo results in depigmentation of a horse’s skin and might be related to stress or a nutritional deficiency. Research into the condition is limited. Here’s what we know.
Share
Favorite
Close

No account yet? Register

ADVERTISEMENT

Is Vitiligo in Horses Related to Copper Deficiency?
Vitiligo is a skin condition that’s essentially cosmetic in horses. It occurs in other mammals, including dogs, pigs, and people, and is an autoimmune condition that targets and kills the melanocytes in the skin. | Photo: Courtesy Leila Gillen

Q. My horse has developed white pigmentation around one of his eyes. A friend mentioned that this might be due to a copper deficiency. Is that true?

A. Vitiligo is a skin condition that’s essentially cosmetic in horses. It occurs in other mammals, including dogs, pigs, and people, and is an autoimmune condition that targets and kills the melanocytes in the skin.

Melanocytes are the skin’s pigment-forming cells, so when they die the skin becomes white or unpigmented. Although first described about 3,500 years ago in people, vitiligo wasn’t mentioned in scientific literature about horses until 1931, and multiple scientific reports didn’t occur until the 1960s

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.

Share
Favorite
Close

No account yet? Register

Written by:

Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

When do you vaccinate your horse?
391 votes · 391 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with TheHorse.com!