Allergies in horses: recognizing and actingThe term "allergy" is often used colloquially in horses for many clinical pictures that trigger typical allergy symptoms. In practice, however, no distinction is usually made between an intolerance and an allergy. However, there are several underlying mechanisms. A "real" allergy is an excessive reaction of the immune system to a foreign substance by means of antibodies (IgE), to which normally no damage is caused. In the case of intolerance, typical allergy symptoms are also triggered, but without a "real" allergy being present. In the case of intolerances, the body's own defense system is NOT involved, but there is a deficiency of an enzyme, a defect or a metabolic disease.
The "real" allergies include summer eczema and urticaria (hives), these are scientifically proven. In equine asthma and its subtype SPAOPD (summer meadow associated pulmonary disease), an involvement of allergens in the development is suspected, but this is not scientifically confirmed to date.
Allergens as cause
An allergy or intolerance also means a lot of stress for horses. Depending on the type of allergen, severe itching, coughing, headshaking or diarrhea can severely affect the horse's daily life and performance. Triggers for allergies are diverse and are classified into four groups:
Inhalation allergens: environmental irritants, pollen, molds
Ingestion allergens: feedstuffs
Contact allergens: environmental stimuli, insects and parasites
Injection allergens: medication
Often allergies or. their triggers are not clearly recognizable at first, therefore it is recommended to observe the horse daily.
In humans, an allergy is defined by a positive allergy test that detects the formation of antibodies (IgE). Allergy tests are relatively unreliable in horses so far, because there are no standards and many factors influence the tests. Detection is therefore often difficult, expensive and the result is not always helpful. Before taking the blood sample, the laboratory carrying out the test should be consulted in detail about the requirements that must be met. Question: Is this sentence relevant for the horse owner?? Don't the veterinarian clarify this? If necessary. rephrase so that it is clear what is meant by it. Or eliminate altogether.
The best known and most common equine allergy is sweet itch, which is triggered by the saliva of certain types of mosquitoes. But also inappropriate housing conditions, lack of exercise and incorrect feeding promote allergic reactions. An allergy is not curable and with each exposure (dose-independent) to the triggering allergen, symptoms occur again. In the case of intolerances, on the other hand, the symptoms are dose-dependent. The foreign substances trigger an overreaction of the body only at a certain amount.
For acute high severity symptoms, especially skin (urticaria) and respiratory symptoms, the veterinarian can provide relief for your horse with the use of medications.
Coat care is important for both health and the bond between human and horse.
How can I prevent allergies in my horse??
Even if allergies cannot be cured, you as a horse owner can reduce the symptoms and help your horse to feel better.
Create species-appropriate housing conditions for your horse
Susceptible horses need plenty of fresh air, a balanced, nutritious, high-quality diet, and adequate exercise. If open stabling is not possible, the horse stall should always be kept clean and well ventilated. In the box you should use dust-free bedding (such as wood shavings), so that your horse is not constantly exposed to irritating dust particles. Make sure that the feed is also of high quality. Dust- and mold-free hay as well as the supplementation of fatty acids and important minerals such as biotin, zinc and copper are recommended for allergy sufferers.
Careful skin care for your horse is essential O!
Just as important as a clean box is a clean and well-groomed coat. Daily grooming should be the order of the day. During the warm summer days, you can also take your horse for a walk. Wash on with a mild shampoo. This inhibits the smell of horses. Keeps annoying insects away from your horse. During the mosquito season, use insect repellent, fly blankets or other equipment to keep the little bloodsuckers away from your horse.