Allergies in horsesItchy eyes, the throat swells up or skin areas are irritated. Many people know it, the suffering that comes with an allergy. But also more and more horses are affected. Since horses, unlike humans, cannot tell us what problems they have, it is not always so easy to recognize what the horse has. In addition, it is not so easy to distinguish an allergy from a skin disease.
For this reason we have compiled a checklist for you. Here are the most common allergies in horses, their symptoms and possible treatments, as well as tips on how to avoid allergies.
1.1 Insect allergy
The most common allergies in horses are caused by insect bites and stings. However, there is no one insect to which most horses are allergic, it is more like humans, each animal can react differently to different insects. However, especially the mosquito species Culicoides is one of the better known representatives of its kind. It is mainly their bite (but also that of other insects) that causes sweet itch in horses. Other insects, such as mosquitoes, gnats and black flies can cause small itchy pustules through their bite or sting.
Fly blanket with zebra pattern. The stripe pattern confuses the insect because it perceives the stripes differently than humans due to its compound eyes. For this reason it avoids landing on the horse.
There are several ways to keep the insects away from the horse. We have already summarized some possibilities here: Insect protection for horses. Other possibilities to protect the horse from bites and stings are mosquito nets and plastic curtains, which prevent the insects from entering the stable. Furthermore, fans can help, as mosquitoes do not like air movement. In addition, it is advantageous if the manure is regularly removed from the stable and the meadows. The dung heap should not be placed in the immediate vicinity of the horses, because insects like to cavort on it. In addition, there are various means with which the manure pile can be treated, so that it becomes unusable as a breeding ground for insects. If it has already come to a sting or. Bite come, soothing ointments can help.
1.2 Environmental allergies
More and more frequently, a so-called environmental allergy appears in horses. In this form, our four-legged friend is particularly sensitive to house dust and / or storage mites (found in muesli, cereals, hay, straw, stable dust), pollen or fungi. But sensitivities to grasses and herbs also occur. Contact with grasses can cause urticaria (a rash of fluid-filled round wheals), itching, papules (nodules under the skin), and RAO (recurrent airway obstruction; similar to human asthma).
Onset of hives after contact with grasses.
With this type of allergy there are not so many possibilities to protect the horse from it. You can try to avoid the plants that cause the allergy. To treat the already affected areas of the skin. It is also possible to desensitize the horse so that it no longer reacts so strongly to the substances in question.
Nowadays there is also an increased incidence of feed allergies. In these, for example, the animal reacts to the additives in the feed. This can cause hives, scaling, itching and coat problems. But also worse like extensive swellings, fever up to deficiency diseases, diarrhea and colics are possible in rare cases. The only way to protect the horse from this is to completely eliminate the allergen from the feed and to always pay attention to the ingredients.
Contact allergy is rather rare, it can be caused for example by intolerance to detergents. It can cause redness, oozing and itching. Again, the trigger should not be used any further.
1.5 Drug allergy
Allergies to medications are just as rare; they are usually manifested by urticaria, but worse symptoms can also occur. The allergy can be triggered by a deworming treatment, but also by antibiotics.
As shown in the list of the five types of allergies, the allergies are mainly expressed through the skin of the horse. In the form of itching and urticaria, for example. However, not every skin disease of the horse can and should be attributed to an allergy. Often the symptoms are not triggered by an allergy, but by mites or fungal infections. A diagnosis should always be carried out by exclusion procedure of other skin diseases, in order not to draw hasty conclusions.
Already in chapter 1 "The most common allergies" possible tips for avoidance and treatment were given. At this point, the treatment options should be further deepened. As already known, the skin barrier is affected by the allergy. In healthy skin, an oily film protects the skin. However, if this is affected by an allergy, a chain of negative effects occurs. The allergy-related itching and redness dry out the skin and consequently intensify the itching. To relieve itching, the horse scrubs itself, which can cause hair to fall out, disrupt the greasy film, and thus remove its protective function. As a result, infectious agents can get under the skin, multiply and cause pus-filled areas to form. The result is a vicious circle that can and should be interrupted by the right treatment and protective measures. Although infectious agents are also present on a healthy skin, these cannot cause any damage due to the existing protection. A practical tip from us: By applying birch hair water, the horse's urge to rub itself is greatly reduced. You can get this, for example, cheaply in DM stores. To strengthen the skin barrier and restore the natural protection, various sprays, foams and gels can be used. In addition, essential fatty acids, such as those found in linseed oil, help strengthen internal defense functions. Since essential fatty acids are incorporated into the cell membrane as a component of the outer fatty film, they have an anti-inflammatory effect. However, it must be ensured that the linseed oil used is of very good quality, but linseed can also be fed directly.
A note on flaxseeds: These can give your horse a huge energy boost, so using rice germ oil can be a good, if slightly more expensive, alternative.
Of course, a balanced diet is always good. If the skin or hair has been attacked by an illness or allergy, a little protein, biotin, zinc, selenium and copper can be added, as fur production requires a lot of energy. If these mentioned changes and treatment attempts are not sufficient, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory or anti-allergic drugs can also be administered, depending on the degree of severity. However, depending on the case, this should be discussed with a doctor. The general rule is that a doctor should always be consulted in the event of serious symptoms.