Fact Sheet: Understanding Hives in Horses



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The sudden appearance of multiple raised eruptions on a horse’s skin with no apparent underlying cause can be alarming for owners. That distress often leads to disappointment and frustration when owners learn many cases of hives (aka urticaria or wheals) become chronic in nature and challenging and expensive to treat.

Hives can develop on any part of the body but mainly occur on the horse’s back, flanks, neck, eyelids, and legs. In some advanced cases they might develop on the gums, nose, around the eyes (conjunctiva), rectum, and vulva. Often the hair stands up over these swellings and they become itchy, causing the horse to scratch his body and damage the skin. Horses might also become excited or restless when the lesions appear.

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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