Seriously itchy belly? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-11-2012, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Seriously itchy belly?

My poor mare has always been so itchy! When I got her last year she had rubbed her belly and face completely bald and had rubbed her mane completely off. Keeping her bug sprayed and rubbing aloe on her belly fixed her up nicely last year. Her mane has sense mostly grown back.
But we just moved and her paddock was pretty overgrown. I cut back alot and she cut it back more :P but there's still TONS of bugs inside and out. Black flies are just horrible this year. The past few weeks her belly has been getting worse and worse. I've been limiting her to only going outside for a short amount of time per day. Today when I let her out she ran right to the hard grass area (there's some plants that's are like sticks, very stiff and hard) and plopped down and rubbed her belly into it. She's always rubbed her belly like that (we call it her elephant seal impersonation :P) but tonight she just couldn't stop, every time she got up it was only to find another spot to scratch in. Finally I haltered her and dragged her back in her stall.

I went to scratch it for her and found her belly has been all cut up and raw (since yesterday, where it was just bald patches). So I lathered her up in Furazone (it's all I had).
I've been giving her Hist All every day for almost two weeks now, it obviously hasn't made much of a difference. Does anyone have any other ideas how to help her? I'm willing to try ANYTHING - she must be so miserable! She was practically falling over on herself when I itched her belly.

Oh, and I did have the vet look at her "that's just sweet itch, not much you can do about that" -.-'
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post #2 of 23 Old 09-11-2012, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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Her elephant seal impersonation:

I hate seeing her do it cause I know she's uncomfortable - but it is quite funny xD
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post #3 of 23 Old 09-12-2012, 02:08 AM
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Come over to the nutrition forum, "need some advice from the nutrition/feed stuff gurus"
What started out as a nutritional question turned into the war on flies
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post #4 of 23 Old 09-12-2012, 09:48 AM
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I did have the vet look at her "that's just sweet itch, not much you can do about that" -.-'
That's about the biggest crock of ---- that I've ever heard come out of a vet's mouth. I can't believe he said that. You may not have any choices but I'd be looking for a new vet if that kind of tripe ever came out of my vet's mouth.

Uncomfortable isn't the word -- she is absolutely MISERABLE

She is allergic to midge fly bites (and other biting flies) and has sweet itch along her belly line.

To bring her immediate relief, go to WalMart or the Drug store and buy:

1. Betadyne
2. Diaper rash creme ; Equates is cheap and as good as Desitin.
3. Hemeroid ointment; again Equates is cheap and as good as Prep H
4. Triple Antibiotic Ointment.

Run don't walk to her and start cleaning. Wash her belly with a strong mix of Betadyne and warm water. Pat dry.

Mix equal parts of diaper rash cream/ hemeroid ointment/Triple Antibiotic and slather it down her belly line, making sure to thoroughly cover all the affected areas.

The hemeroid ointment does a great job of controlling the itch/pain. Diaper crash cream is high in zinc oxide so a helps with healing but also stays on all day and keeps the flies from being able to bite her.

Do that twice a day, every day until she heals up. Then, until the frost kills the flies, I would still slather her belly line every day with diaper rash cream to keep the flies from landing on her. Fly spray only helps for five minutes.

Yes you're going to have to stand on your head and yes it's going to be a major pain but that horse is miserable.

I would not try and saddle her because the girth could rub against some of that and she's not going to be willing to perform.

In the midst of all that, consider her diet as that can make some difference but not 100%.

Also consider double-dosing her with pure Ivermectin. I don't understand why that works to control Onchocerca worms (microfiliae that burrow into the skin and are the result of midge fly bites), but it does.

If she is boarded and you can't get to the barn twice day, I hope you can find a way to get there once a day every day until that poor horse is healed up.

Last edited by walkinthewalk; 09-12-2012 at 09:51 AM.
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post #5 of 23 Old 09-12-2012, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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No she lives downstairs I'll be heading out to the drug store as soon as I've got clothes on - Thank you SO much for the perfectly detailed information!! My only quick question, she has some open boo-boos will any of that hurt her open cuts? and no I wouldn't even think of riding her right now, she's so miserable ;-; my poor pony.

I typically cover her belly in swat and fly spray the rest of her, should I add the desitin or not use swat and just the deisitin?

Also her diet includes free choice hay/grass all day and split into two meals she gets a little less than 2 cups Crimped oats, a little less than 2 cups Alfalfa pellets, MSM and she was getting brewer's yeast but the last batch came in moldy so she hasn't gotten that in a couple weeks. Anything you think I should add/subtract to help this?

What would be good maintenance for next year to prevent this?

Thank you again for the great details!!
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-12-2012, 10:12 AM
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Theory, relatively proven tho, is that Hardy breeds, like ponies, Arabs, most draft, especially Icelandic horses, can't handle a rich diet and are therefore prone to become overweight and allergic to gnats. In Germany, where thousands of Icelanders have been imported, there are a couple of feed manufacturers who make a special feed which seems to keep the bug reactions down.
But it starts with hay and pasture. Over there pasture is made for cows. Milk is needed so the grasses used are high yield, high protein. Hard to find natural pasture/ hay.

As for neck threadworms, you should Google it and see if the symptoms match and try the suggested therapy.
Having had two mares with sweet itch, who came to me without mane and tail, I used Avon Skin so soft bathoil. Applied to mane and tail early in the morning and again about 5 in the afternoon, it kept the gnats away and after a year my mares had grown full mane and tail. But they didn't have anything on the belly.
Agree with the ointments walkinthewalk mentioned as they are sticky and greasy, which makes it impossible for the gnats to bite through.
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post #7 of 23 Old 09-12-2012, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Ok!! I just came up from doing everything you both listed xD

Her belly is all soft and white now :P She enjoyed her belly rub and loved me putting on all the different creams, she was grooming me back xD I was surprised how well she handled the cold water, but I think, like for us when we have a really itchy spot, the cool water makes it not so bad.

She's feeling MUCH better right now - I will do this twice a day until she starts to heal up. What should I do for continual maintenance though? And should I keep her on HistAll? How should I prevent this from happening again?

And yes she is quite fat :P and a draft breed. I also read that a high protein diet can cause this to be worse, so I'm going to start reducing her alfalfa pellets to see if that helps
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-12-2012, 01:54 PM
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Handful of oats and a vviamin/ mineral supplement and, as I've said on the other thread, Omega Horseshine. Its flax based, contains also yeast and helps in general with coat, skin, mane and tail, hooves and a lot more. Give her as detailed on the bag. At TSC it's about 40$ for 20lbs and lasts me almost 2 months with two horses. And even if it doesn't help with the itch, you will at least have a very very shiny horse

Once her belly is healed up, try to get the really keeps the gnats away.
One other thing. Gnats fly from just before dawn to about 9 am and again 5pm to dark. Keep her inside for these hours.
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post #9 of 23 Old 09-12-2012, 05:12 PM
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That's about the biggest crock of ---- that I've ever heard come out of a vet's mouth.
Phssssshh... you haven't met the vets in my area. I am never not amazed. It started when my now 26 year old mare was 17 and I asked a simple question over the phone regarding her breathing difficulty in the humid weather. The response was "You said she is 17? She is old, have you considered putting her down?"

Anyways... The mare mentioned above has a very similar issue. She is frequently seen using small pine trees as belly itchers and doing what your girl is doing in the photo. Diaper rash creme, triple antibiotic, A&D ointment... all helpful if regularly applied.
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post #10 of 23 Old 09-12-2012, 05:24 PM
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So what I've found is what you put in, you get out, which applies to more than just performance. When I first got Mudpie, I'd had horses my whole life, but they'd always been relatively hardy, and I didn't know a lot about horse nutrition. I thought all you did was throw them hay in the morning and at night, and that was it. However, that sort of feeding just does not work for Mudpie, who happens to be an extremely high maintenance guy. I went from level one to level ten in horse care pretty quickly!

I've observed Mudpie with and without supplements, and I can say that they've made a HUGE difference in his overall health and wellness.

Mudpie's current diet is:

A.M. 13 lbs of Alfalfa

P.M. 13 lbs of Alfalfa
5 lbs senior feed
3 lbs pelleted rice bran
1 scoop SmartHoof
1 scoop CortaFlx
1 scoop U-7 Gastric Aid

I have, however, modified his supplements, though they have not arrived yet, and he is still on the diet stated above.

I changed to:

1 scoop Farrier's Formula Double Strength
1 scoop SmartFlex I
1 scoop U-Gard
1 scoop SmartOmega 3

I did this in conjunction with a SmartPak representative (who heroically talked on the phone with me for one hour straight and answered all of my stupid questions and helped me compare all of the supplements), and we just found supplements that were around the same price, but with higher levels of certain ingredients, or just better ingredients for my purpose.

He's been on SmartHoof since April, and it has made a BIG difference, but I decided to change to Farrier's Formula because it had more to it, and seemed like a better choice for his hooves, which tend to lack integrity. I like CortaFlx just fine, but SmartFlex has slightly different ingredients. U-7 Gastric Aid is GREAT, but really expensive. Since Mudpie doesn't have ulcers, I decided it would be okay to start him on U-Gard instead, since I'm only using it for prevention. A horse at my barn got extremely sick and was put down, but he had an entire month of SmartPaks left. SmartPak refunded his owners and told them that they could do whatever they wanted with his supplements, and then they ended up giving them to me. I used the SmartOmega 3 for 28 days, and was AMAZED at the difference. Suddenly, Mudpie's coat was shiny and healthy, his mane and tail were growing quickly, and his skin was soft. He was also more vibrant. He'd been getting big hives all over from bug bites, but the hives stopped appearing shortly after.

Sorry for the novel! ;) My point is that examining and modifying your horses diet can make a BIG difference. Nutrition totally affects your horse, so I wouldn't doubt that your adorable elephant seal could really benefit from adding an omega supplement. :)

I'd definitely recommend that you call SmartPak and talk with their experts about your situation, and I know they'd be more than happy to help you. I am SO IMPRESSED with their knowledge and helpfulness, that I just can't praise them enough.

Betadine tends to "burn" the skin, so use it sparingly. I think it's definitely a good idea to start with, but don't do it too regularly. There are medicated shampoos that might be better like this, this, this, this, or this. There are also products like this that could help you manage it, and try to make her more comfortable.

Good luck, and keep us updated!

The hills were bathed in moonlight, the shadows not so stark;
Silver light reflected off his brown hide as he held me in the dark
I love you, Mudpie!
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