No more itchy horse! - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 21 Old 08-12-2013, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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Talking No more itchy horse!

For as long as I've known "my" (he is really my trainers horse, but I consider him mine) thoroughbred gelding, he has had the WORST itchy-ness I've ever seen on a horse. There would be times where he would literally have NO hair on his belly and would have open sores from itching himself raw on his tummy. My trainer and I tried MANY different things, and nothing had ever worked (swat, medicated shampoo, skin so soft, microtek spray/shampoo, MTG, etc). We took him to the vet, and the vet never really gave a straight answer as to what it was. I'm moving soon and am going to be taking him with me, so I figured it was time to put a stop to his crazy itchiness and figure something out.

After years of trying, I FINALLY got him to stop itching AND his ENTIRE belly is (almost) completely covered in hair! I'm posting this just in case any of you have had problems with itchy horses and can't figure out what to do about it. What I do is spray him with diluted listerine (it sounds weird but it works!) and rub it into his itchy spots. Then I put hydrocortisone cream (the kind for people) and rubbed it into the spots that were hairless (these gradually decreased with time). He also has been receiving wheat germ oil and 3 scoops of ground flax in his nightly grain to help improve skin and coat conditions. Once a week I wash his tummy (I've been using Fungasol shampoo because it has tea tree oil in it) just because I put stuff on it every day and it builds up and can probably become irritating over time. And now the itchi-ness is gone! Success! If anybody else has a problem with itchy horses they should give this a try. Putting it on every day is the key part, I think. Now that he hasn't been itching as much, I've just been spraying the listerine on him.
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post #2 of 21 Old 08-13-2013, 12:16 AM
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Interesting way to fix the itch. Ill keep what you did in mind if I ever come across with the same issue-good for you!
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post #3 of 21 Old 08-13-2013, 02:01 AM Thread Starter
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Desperation calls for innovative ideas! :)
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post #4 of 21 Old 08-14-2013, 03:13 AM
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Originally Posted by showjumperachel View Post
For as long as I've known "my" (he is really my trainers horse, but I consider him mine) thoroughbred gelding, he has had the WORST itchy-ness I've ever seen on a horse. There would be times where he would literally have NO hair on his belly and would have open sores from itching himself raw on his tummy. ... He also has been receiving wheat germ oil and 3 scoops of ground flax in his nightly grain to help improve skin and coat conditions.
I have a mare that has similar problems and there have been times when her entire belly was raw and bloody from between her forelegs to her udder. She also rubbed out most of the hair on the dock of her tail and most of her mane. I think what my mare has and what your gelding may have too is called "Sweet Itch". As I understand it, sweet itch is caused by an allergic reaction to gnat bites that develops over time. My mare was about 18 years old when the sweet itch started and had never had any problems before.

I tried all kinds of things with my mare: Calm Coat, aloe, bag balm, calamine lotion, Listerine (didn't work for her), Campho-Phenique, some kind of nasty smelling liquid steroid-based crap the vet said to try. NOTHING worked. I finally read that ground flax seed is good for the skin, so I started adding a cup of freshly ground flax to her beet pulp once a day and just using lots of fly spray. I also coated the raw sores with Dr. Naylor's Udder cream (similar to Bag Balm but without all the menthol). It took a couple of months but her belly finally cleared up and actually grew hair again!

The ground flax is the KEY.
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post #5 of 21 Old 08-14-2013, 08:33 AM
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Have you considered that the bugs/mosquitoes may have been chewing him up under there? Did you try wiping a good fly spray under there? I'll be he was really chewed up from the navel way up to where his legs meet. When I see my horses rubbing back and forth on bushes I know it's time to slather petroleum jelly (Vaseline). It protects the skin and lasts about 3 days. Cortisone cream thins the skin, it's more of a once or twice thing and no more than that.
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post #6 of 21 Old 08-14-2013, 10:39 AM
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It seems to be a bad bug year for most of us and you're right- the sweet itch is really bad! I've also had good luck with switching from oil based to a water based fly spray, a 50/50 plain Listerine and water spray, and liberal amounts of Vaseline. I'm sooo ready for Fall and bidding goodbye to these bugs and itches!!
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post #7 of 21 Old 08-14-2013, 10:50 AM
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Flax is the key! My mare was just like this. This was the first year she hasn't torn her belly up. She's still a little itchy and appreciates a good belly rub, but this is the first time she's not miserably itchy. IT was causing all sorts of behavioral issues too because she was so distracted by how uncomfortable she was.
I don't use much else besides Flax and Brewer's Yeast.
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post #8 of 21 Old 08-14-2013, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Saddlebag View Post
Have you considered that the bugs/mosquitoes may have been chewing him up under there? Did you try wiping a good fly spray under there? I'll be he was really chewed up from the navel way up to where his legs meet. When I see my horses rubbing back and forth on bushes I know it's time to slather petroleum jelly (Vaseline). It protects the skin and lasts about 3 days. Cortisone cream thins the skin, it's more of a once or twice thing and no more than that.
Yes, I did consider this, but even with fly spray and swat he was still itching himself raw! And even in the winter when there aren't nearly as many flies he still had major itchiness problems!

Xlntperuvian: A whole cup of flax? Wow! Maybe I should give him a little bit more. He has only bee getting about 3 tablespoons a day with his grain.
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post #9 of 21 Old 08-14-2013, 03:00 PM
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I do about 1/2 a cup a day for my draft horse. But a fly sheet helped big time!
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post #10 of 21 Old 08-14-2013, 05:27 PM
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Do not feed raw flax seed without exposing it to high heat, ie boiling it. It contains arsenates which are in the arsenic family of poisons. The heat destroys this property. Powdered flax is safe as it has been exposed to high heat.
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