Just like humans, horses can have a number of different types
of allergies. The most common types of horse allergies are
respiratory and skin. Respiratory allergies are also known
as 'heaves' and are often similar to asthma in people.
A horse can be allergic to things in the air (e.g. pollen,
dust, mold, spores), certain foods or nutritional supplements,
or insect bites. Normally, allergies develop over time with
exposure. For example, a horse may not have an allergy to
straw but if exposed to moldy straw over a long period of
time may develop an allergy to straw mold.
Just as people can have many different allergic symptoms
(itchy eyes or skin, bumps or rashes, difficulty breathing),
horses can have a variety of symptoms as well. Common symptoms
in horses include:
Coughing or difficulty breathing Reduced energy, especially
during exercise Nasal discharge Watery eyes Skin bumps Itchy
skin. The horse can be seen rubbing itself on the ground or
against objects, or its hair may be worn away where it has
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to diagnose an allergy,
as each of these symptoms can have other causes, aside from
allergies. For example, a throat infection could cause coughing,
or a lung infection could result in breathing difficulty and
reduced energy. Diagnosis is further complicated by the fact
that there can be a delayed reaction between exposure and
a visible reaction. For example, symptoms of skin allergies
(e.g. bumps) may appear 12 hours after exposure to the allergen
(the substance the horse is allergic to). Consequently, one
may need veterinary assistance to determine if the symptoms
are due to an allergy or some other cause. In some cases (particularly
in the case of skin allergies) the veterinarian may take a
tissue sample for analysis to determine if the problem is
allergic and if so to help identify the cause.
Treatment and Control
The treatment of horses for allergies is similar to the treatment
for people. The preferred treatment is avoidance. On exposure,
there are a number of treatments (e.g. anti histamines or
corticosteroids) to reduce the symptoms and make the horse
more comfortable. There are also a number of desensitizing
Alternatively, if the symptoms are not severe, one can separate
the horse from the allergen and allow it to recover normally.
If the horse is allergic to something in the stable (e.g.
dust, fungus, mold) one can let it out to pasture until it
has had time to recover and one has had time to clean the
stable. Alternatively, if the problem is in the pasture (some
plant), one can place the horse in a stable until it recovers.
Depending on what the horse is allergic to, some common solutions
Hay dust. Try soaking the hay in water or find a supplier
of less dusty hay. If this doesn't work, you may need to switch
to an alternative food, such as pelleted hay. Straw dust.
Try lightly spraying the straw with water, to damp down the
dust. Dust. Keep the stable clean. If necessary, lightly sprinkle
with water to damp down the dust. Bedding. If the horse is
allergic to its bedding, you can try another type of bedding.
You may also want to consider rubber mats instead of bedding.
Insects. One can keep the horse in the stable when the insects
are active (e.g. during the day) and let it out when they
are inactive (e.g. at night). One can also use insect repellents
or fly sheets to keep the insects off. Mold or Fungus. This
are normally associated with poor quality hay, feed or bedding.
Do not buy any products with mold or fungus. Keep these products
in a dry and well ventilated area, without sitting on a cold
floor, so they do not develop mold or fungus. If you find
any product which does have mold/fungus, do not use it but
dispose of it instead. Plants. If your horses are allergic
to certain plants in the pasture, these should be reduced
or eliminated. Be careful of using herbicides for this purpose
as that can result in laminitis.
Note that in the case of watered hay or straw, one must ensure
that the hay and straw is changed daily so that it does not
have time to develop mold or fungus.
Cleaning a stable tends to disturb dust, mold, fungus and
other potential allergens. Consequently, one should always
remove a horse from the stable while it is being cleaned and
for some time afterwards (until things have had time to settle
Normally, a well ventilated stable will have fewer allergens
than a poorly ventilated one. However, in the case of a dust
allergy, increasing ventilation may make the situation worse
(at least in the short term) as increased wind through the
stable may stir up dust.
Author Resource:-> Doug Stewart is the owner of http://www.wowhorses.com
and author of articles.