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PunksTank 12-12-2012 12:09 PM

Still Itching??
You all probably know about me and my mare, Tank - if not she's a small draft horse with serious sweet itch on her belly. During the summer months she's absolutely miserable - she lays down in the mud and grinds her belly into it, until she gets all cut up and sore. But I thought it was an allergy to bugs? I talked to my vet and they suggested I start her on Omega supplements, I starts her on Smart Omega Ultra for a few months then switched to regular Smart Omega - because it's winter now and that was what was suggested to me. She definitely improved, she's no longer miserable - it's winter now and no more bugs, but she's still seriously itchy. When I groom her she paws at her belly (this is her way of telling me she wants me to scratch her there. The patch between her front legs is still bald and a little scaly. I've put bag balm on it and tried Furazone, separately - they were the only things I had on hand and figured it wouldn't hurt to try.
She's doing much better but she's still pretty freaking itchy. Is there anything else I can do for her? I regularly purchase Cortozone and Desitin and apply those to the itchy spots, but all they really seem to do is make a big mess.
I don't really know what else to do :S I could call my vet again, but she said aside from steroids/drugs there's not much else I can do - I'd rather save something that extreme for the worst times of the year for her.
I plan to put her on a feed-through bug repellent next summer (as well as spraying her regularly like I do). But there are no bugs now so I don't know why she's still itchy?

poppy1356 12-12-2012 12:49 PM

Have you ruled out a food allergy?

deserthorsewoman 12-12-2012 01:32 PM

Sad to hear that:-(
do you use any bedding, and if so, what?
She could be allergic to anything, apart from the bugs.
I had a horse break out in hives due to a change in straw.
Where is she laying, stall or outside? Could be, as I said, the bedding, or something in the ground....

deserthorsewoman 12-12-2012 01:39 PM

One other poppy said, food allergy. Research has found that sweet itch/summer excema in Icelandic horses has a lot to do with what they eat. They came to the conclusion that easy keeper breeds, like most ponies, Arabs, some drafts, Haflingers, short, all breeds who originally come from rather poor areas, feed wise, develop sweet itch due to too rich nutrition.
Several feed companies in Germany have developed special feeds for these horses(we have a lot of icelandics). Low protein, rather meager, but with appropriate amounts of vit/min. Seems to work for these horses.

Left Hand Percherons 12-12-2012 04:24 PM

I'd be pretty comfortable saying she is not suffering from sweet itch at all since it hasn't resolved itself with the change in weather. ( From by own personal experience with a vet who was 100% we were just dealing with SI)

As has been expressed, you should be looking for alternative triggers. Diet and environmental allergens are the most likely culprits. Go back and to the best of your recollections, when did it start, what was blooming/growing, what's her diet, what type of bedding do you use,...? Has she battled this for multiple years or is it something new? What's changed? (hay supplier perhaps) I would then have allergy tests run. Find someone who test for triggers for your general area. I have used Heska but they tested for 50% of triggers I don't have plus no common feeds, than I used Spectra (in AZ) and they had multiple panels for different area of the US. Their panel was over 120 triggers including most everything a horse eats. Low and behold my mare is allergic to the one item no horse should be allergic to, green growing grass. Hopefully, you're looking at a simple food allergy that just gets exaccerbated during the summer months.

deserthorsewoman 12-12-2012 04:46 PM

LHP...sweet itch and a food allergy can go together, especially when you look at what type of horse she is....taking in consideration that sweet itch might have to do with nutrition. What gets me is being itchy at belly and under chest....where she would touch the ground when laying down, hency my question about bedding. Or possible contaminated ground.....

princessfluffybritches 12-12-2012 05:46 PM

Seasonal? My mule used to get itchy itchy bumps, she would rub the ones on her legs and turn them bloody. It was awful. Then I tried something I heard of. A dose of a wormer called Zimectrin Gold, and another dose a month later.

What I learned is that many people think it's the bug bites, it's actually those bugs burrowing. Most wormers do not kill the hatching bugs, but these 2 do.

My mule became bump free for a year after that, then we would dose in the spring every year.

deserthorsewoman 12-12-2012 06:11 PM

Not sure, but I think that was ruled out....could be mistaken, since there were quite a few threads about neck threadworm.

PunksTank 12-12-2012 06:24 PM

Thanks guys i didn't think of food or bedding.
Previously she was fed crimped oats, alfalfa pellets and corn - which desert helped me reqrrange her diet as that was clearly too rich for her. Almost four months ago i switched her to nutrena grass balancer with omega supplements and a calming supplement. i started both supplements as 'ultra' until i used that batch then switched to regular - to give her a head start. With the diet change she has lost weight - to a much more appropriate levels, she still jiggles a little but she's looking much better.
She gets hay constantly throughout the day - unfortunately i change hay allll the time - my supplier gets it from all over to be sure to have some at all times.

As for bedding i use all soft wood certified horse wood pellet bedding. I've used multiple different brands and noticed no difference - but wasn't really watching carefully or tried any one long enough to really see a change. I have a year supply of what i've got now and can't afford to buy more on a guess but i could try a month or two of somethjng different next windfall.

As for how long- she's had it since far before i got her a little more than a year ago. She was kept in a dry lot, no stall, no bedding, no protection from bugs. She had rubbed her neck, mane, face, belly and legs almost completely bald. Since i've had her, her mane's grown back and her itching has centralized to just her belly- i think having shelter and bug spray made that improvement. She has definitely improved since the diet change, but she just isn't 'better'.

As for wormer - i asked my vet about burrowing insects and she said it would look very different - like tiny hives- not just dry, bald, scaly patches.

Thank you all for helping - i'm really at a loss. I'd like to avoid drugging her- consideribg this is an ongoing issue, but she may need that in the bad months.
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jaydee 12-12-2012 06:42 PM

Sweet itch in the UK is associated with the midges - little mozzie type bugs and the allergic reaction is down to their saliva. My friends ponies suffer with it but she finds that any sort of barrier, even baby oil helps combined with stabling morning and evening, fly sheets and a good fly spray, In the winter she has no trouble at all so I'm inclined to think it isnt the sweet itch I'm familiar with
Have you considered that she might have mites or lice? They can be so small so not easy to see?
It might even be sarcoptic mange though that can spread to humans when our dogs once had it we managed to avoid it ourselves
Mange in horses: Signs and treatments - by Perry McCarney - Helium

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