Horse allergies - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-19-2012, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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Horse allergies

There is a horse at a ranch that Im a member of. He has really bad allergies and is always so itchy. He scratches him self raw. We have tried everything it seems. Nothing seems to be helping. We've tried cortizone shots, caladryl, other spray treatments. Any ideas that might help I would greatly appreciate it.
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post #2 of 4 Old 08-19-2012, 11:20 PM
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I know you said you tried everything but I figured I'd cover all the bases.

Oatmeal shampoo works WONDERS! My mare has allergies where she has rubbed herself raw and after one week of bathing her with it the fur is already growing back!

I know MTG is also great for the skin! Oil based fly spray as well!

Could he be itching because of pinworms? I know of a horse who had them and itched like CRAZY. Extra dose of wormer did the trick.

He could very well be allergic to something or he could have a vitamin deficiency, parasites etc. I just wanted to rule out these options. Prevention first before the vet. You can always call the vet and ask for an antihistamine or steroid! I'm not super familiar with them otherwise i'd suggest one.
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-20-2012, 12:32 PM
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Is it Sweet Itch?

Originally Posted by DIXIEGRL View Post
There is a horse at a ranch that Im a member of. He has really bad allergies and is always so itchy. He scratches him self raw. We have tried everything it seems. Nothing seems to be helping. We've tried cortizone shots, caladryl, other spray treatments. Any ideas that might help I would greatly appreciate it.
If the itching is on the midline of the belly starting between the front legs and going all the way back, and also on the mane and the dock of the tail it's probably Sweet Itch. It can get so bad that a horse will rub all the tail hairs off and leave bloody sores and scabs. One of my mares suffers from it.

I did some research when my mare first became affected and ended up writing an article about it for a club newsletter:

"Sweet Itch is nice name for a nasty problem. This skin condition is caused by an allergic reaction to the bites of a tiny fly or ‘midge’ called a
culicoides pulicaris. These midges are more commonly know as “gnats” or “no-see-ums”. 95% of horses have little or no reaction to the bites of these midges. But in some horses the immune system goes into overdrive. The bloody, weeping sores and hair loss that are the symptoms of sweet itch are caused by the horse’s desperate attempts to scratch an inescapable itch. The mane isn’t the only part of the horse that can be involved. The dock of the tail and the midline of the belly are also areas commonly affected by Sweet Itch. A horse suffering switch itch on the belly will stomp and kick at her belly constantly. Even trying to put a girth on the horse can get dangerous. (The horse isn’t trying to hurt you - she’s just so itchy!) A bad case of sweet itch can ruin a show season. Sweet Itch is not communicable - it doesn’t spread from horse to horse - but the tendency of a horse to develop the ondition is believed to be hereditary. Icelandic Horses seem to be prone to Sweet Itch.

Sweet Itch (also called Summer Seasonal Recurrent Dermatitis) usually appears in the spring and summer months. The breeding sites of biting midges are wet, muddy soils or areas of decaying vegetation. The larvae develop in the wet soils and are able to survive even severe frosts. Midges are most active in the spring and summer, but can appear year round."

Like you, I used everything I could think of to help my mare. I finally found two products that help:

"Not So Sweet Itch" - it's a spray that contains natural botanical oils in a witch hazel base. Smells great and really calms the itch. Get it at Not So Sweet Itch

"The Farrier's Wife Belly Salve" - Another all natural product made especially for healing sores on the midline of the belly also has insect repellant properties. $18.95 per 7 oz. jar from The Farrier's Wife.
The Farrier's Wife - Equine Products

These products work, but they are just temporary fixes. If you really want to tackle the problem try adding 1 cup of freshly ground flax seed to the horse's feed every day. Just get a bag of whole flax seed at the feed store and grind it in a blender. Flax seed is wonderful for skin conditions.

Flax seed really helped my mare. The sores healed and her mane and tail actually grew back! But you have to keep feeding the flax seed. I stopped feeding it over the winter and now my mare has no mane or tail again because the little gnat b@stards got to her again!

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post #4 of 4 Old 08-21-2012, 01:02 AM
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Kansas
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I have a horse that gets hives from insect bites and he itches like crazy. The vet suggested TriHist, with the caution that it only works in about 50% of cases, and EquiSpot. Something is working very well, and I'm not sure which, but I don't care. He feels better, and I don't have to worry about him ripping open his jugular trying to scratch his neck. The ES doesn't keep all the flies off him, but they don't seem to bite nearly as much.
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