Allergies in horsesYou come to the stable as you do every day and your horse has suddenly started itching and scratching non-stop? It has pustules. Hives all over the body? The child coughs and has difficulty breathing? His general condition and willingness to perform has significantly deteriorated? All these symptoms may be indicative of an allergy!
Horses, like humans, can be allergic to many different substances. The most common allergies are to insects, various environmental factors such as grasses, pollen or fungi, as well as mites and feedstuffs. A dust allergy can also develop in horses.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is an extreme defense reaction of the immune system to certain substances, which are usually harmless to the body. Inflammatory processes occur in the body, which are accompanied by different symptoms. Depending on the severity of the allergic reaction, it can even be life-threatening in severe cases. The allergy always occurs when the body comes into contact with the respective substance. However, there are also differences in the reaction of the body. The so-called nettle fever in horses is usually an immediate reaction to certain environmental influences, such as plants that are in the pasture and are eaten or touched. Insect bites can also cause hives if the immune system overreacts. Hives can be recognized by the often extensive swellings as well as lymphatic congestion and fever.
The main reason for the development of allergies is the way the horses are kept. Unfortunately, they are not kept in a species-appropriate manner in today's stables. This is why horses that spend most of their time in the stall are particularly susceptible. They are not only exposed to dust and ammonia, but also lack sufficient exercise, sunlight and fresh air. Since they are exposed to environmental stimuli only to a very insufficient extent, the immune system is no longer challenged accordingly. As a result, there is an exaggerated reaction to normally harmless substances.
Possible allergenic substances:
– feed – dust particles and flower pollen – fungal spores – mites – ecto- and endoparasites – sunlight
There are several ways to identify allergenic substances. They can be examined by a blood test as well as the intracutaneous test, in which allergen dilutions are injected under the skin, and tests such as the biofield hair analysis.
Prevention of allergic reactions
– Natural feeding – hay ad libitum and the possibility to eat grass – Horse-friendly husbandry – with plenty of exercise and contact with conspecifics – Optimal mineral and trace element balance – natural mineral sources are optimally metabolized by the horse's intestine, synthetic not – Sensible and considered use of medications and local remedies – less is often more – Essential oils, herbs and plants should be used judiciously – Removal of poisonous plants such as St. John's wort or goldenrod – No use of pesticides and pesticides in the feed of horses – Detoxify liver, kidney and intestines of horses 2 times a year : These products are best suited for allergy sufferers and horses with respiratory diseases.
Therapies for allergies
Especially in the case of acute allergies with strong symptoms such as extensive skin changes as well as swellings, fever and photosensitivity, an emergency treatment should be initiated by the veterinarian. This should be followed by a holistic therapy. In this case, research into the causes should have priority. Here well trained therapists and animal welfare practical men help. Their therapy is based on a profound anamnesis, in which all circumstances of the horse's life are included. And exactly here is also the approach of a holistic therapy concept. Both the feeding and the husbandry of the animals should be changed and optimized.
In the case of an allergy to dust and fungal spores, it is imperative to ensure that the animals are kept and fed free of dust and mold. This means to give high quality hay and concentrated feed and also to pay attention to an appropriate bedding. It should be dusted. Be free of fungal spores.
Basically, however, it is important to pay attention to the regulation of the immune system. But be careful! Here it is counterproductive immunostimulatory and/or. -It is not possible to administer preparations that increase the level of allergy, since the immune system is already overreacting!
Recognize and treat allergies
The diagnosis of an allergy is always difficult. Thereby you must consider some things. Mostly it is created by an exclusion procedure. Then examined by appropriate tests. In the case of allergies to feedstuffs, the cause can usually be quickly eliminated. In the case of an environmental or insect allergy, however, the treatment is much more difficult. Unfortunately, in most cases only the symptoms can be treated, as the cause is difficult to find. In case of an allergy to insects, also called summer eczema, the itching can be relieved and the number of insects can be reduced by using appropriate insect repellent blankets and sprays. It is also advisable to let the horse out into the meadow at night, as there are far fewer insects flying around at that time.
Desensitization is unfortunately very difficult in horses. Especially in case of insect allergy this is almost impossible, because not all allergens of the many different mosquito species are known yet.
In the case of strong allergy symptoms, treatment is usually with cortisone to provide rapid relief. However, cortisone should not be used for long-term therapy because of the severe side effects and is not well tolerated by every horse.
If your horse suffers from a dust allergy, the load on the respiratory tract and the lungs must absolutely be reduced. In this case, your horse's stable should have a good, dust-free climate. It is best if the horse can be out in the fresh air all day long. Especially when feeding hay, you should pay attention to dust-free hay and water it if necessary.
As already described, it is difficult to find the cause of allergies. Therapy is also difficult. Must be individually adapted to each horse. It is important that one holds and feeds its horse already before an illness kind-fairly, in order to let an allergy develop not at all only. Who has the allergy of his horse well under control must, however, the rest of the horse's life always be on the alert and pay close attention to all living conditions, so that it does not break out again.