If the horse suddenly, out of the blue, is covered with wheals, it is called hives or nettle rash. The name describes it well: a horse with nettle fever looks as if the horse has been caught in the middle of a nettle thicket. Or as if bitten by a swarm of huge mosquitoes.
Hives and nettle rash in horses describe the same symptoms. The technical term is urticaria. (Urtica refers to the nettle species.)
Symptoms of hives / nettle rash
In hives (urticaria), swelling and inflammation of a horse's skin occurs quite suddenly. wheals form, firm swellings of the epidermis. The coat above them is ruffled by the swelling. The wheals in hives can be itchy and painful. Most often, the wheals appear on the neck, shoulders and chest or rib area. More rarely, other areas such as the hindquarters are also affected. A striped urticaria shows up with parallel stripes running over the body, also the single wheals can "run together" and form such large swollen areas. The skin itself does not show why it is reacting with inflammation. It is usually superficially uninjured.
If the wheals persist for several days and do not resolve in a few hours, amber-colored fluid may ooze from them – tie fluid. At the latest now it becomes painful for the horse. encrustation of secretions. The epidermis may peel off under the crusts
Occasionally, a horse with urticaria also reacts with increased body temperature. On the head, the wheals can lead to swollen eyelids and nostrils. The entire head of the horse can swell strongly.
Nettle fever is an allergic reaction. It is an overreaction of the immune system to stimuli that a horse normally hardly notices, such as pollen z.B.
Causes of hives
Allergies, especially contact allergies, can cause urticaria with inflamed skin and hair loss. In principle, however, anything that causes an allergy in a horse can also lead to hives. Triggers include:
– feed in case of feed allergy – drug allergies – skin irritations as caused by nettles, thistles, . – Insect bites – Spring pollen in the air – Stable dust and mold spores in the air or in the feed – Eating poisonous plants / incompatible feed – Additives in creams and sprays or detergent residues in blankets / saddle pads – Digestive disorders due to toxins in the intestines – Vaccines
Hives are an allergic reaction (s.o.). It shows a disturbance in the immune system. The horse reacts "nonsensically and an exaggerated reaction to certain substances in the environment or food.
The cause of hives
The cause for the tendency to urticaria is mostly "internal", a derailment of the metabolism, which (also) stresses the immune system. The cause may be:
– Stress – toxins in the diet (including poisonous plants in the pasture or hay) – intestinal mucosal inflammation – existing infections
An excess of protein in the feed can promote urticaria. Stress also puts a strain on the immune system and can thus also lead to increased allergies and hypersensitivities. And even horses on the pasture can have stress if there is unrest in their group.
Fungal infections / skin fungi can be confused with urticaria at first.
Conventional medical treatment of urticaria
In case of swelling on the head with respiratory problems, injections with cortisone are indicated. The horse should have no further contact with the trigger of the nettle fever. Most of the time you don't know the one, but then anything that was new should be removed – whether it's a new bale of hay, a new feed, a new saddle blanket. If the horse was able to get off the pasture with hives, it should be checked for poisonous plants and the horse should stay in the barn in the meantime.
Normally, the wheals on the body disappear again by themselves in a few days. To cool the wheals, cold water helps, possibly with a little fruit vinegar. Hives can also be successfully treated homeopathically. In Chinese medicine, hives are a sign of a liver disorder.
If the horse has already had hives:
Hives are an overreaction of the immune system, an allergy. Therefore, one should always be cautious about anything that might cause the immune system to overreact further.
As with all allergies in horses, optimizing husbandry, good stress management and improved feeding are key to reducing allergy susceptibility. Known substances and plants to which the horse is allergic should be banned from the vicinity of the horse.
– If possible, do not use medicinal plants that stimulate the immune system (Echinacea (coneflower), mistletoe, … ) – It makes sense to use a Gut cleanup. It is best done with medicinal plants rich in tannins and tannins: so that toxins are not absorbed from the intestines. In addition, bitter substances stimulate the formation of digestive juices. – especially moist mueslis and feeds usually contain preservatives, which can overload the horse's metabolism. They should be avoided. – if possible, no additives should be used in the horse's environment. This also applies to wood preservatives. varnish or shavings as bedding. (they could be mixed with wood preservatives.) – Feed should be tested for compatibility. This also applies to detergents, creams and sprays.
For feeding horses that have already had nettle fever
Horses are actually adapted to a low-energy, hard plant material that they eat slowly, over hours. The following is for horses that have already reacted with hives:
– feed protein-reduced, i.e. the 1. Hay trimming and stalk-rich, hard hay. Leafy "soft" Hay has too much energy for many horses. It leads to adiposity. Fatty tie, however, behaves like a hormone gland and promotes inflammation – and thus also allergies. – do not feed silage. Silage can disturb the pH in the intestine due to the lactic acid fermentation of the feed. It interferes with digestion. Metabolism strains. The kidneys also need to work harder to correct the pH in the body. Reduce concentrate feed. Replace with roughage. A horse can easily eat 2-3 kg hay/100kg weight per day. This also prevents stomach ulcers. – Use concentrated feed without attractants, dyes, nature-identical / synthetic flavors (fragrances). Preservatives can also stress the metabolism. – a gut rehabilitation (see above)
Hives in horses are also a warning sign that something is going wrong with the metabolism. Therefore the metabolism should be supported. An appropriate cure can be given to horses z.B.