For most horse people, spring means longer days and warm temperatures to enjoy riding, horse shows, training, and clinics. But for owners of horses with allergies, spring also means the return of biting insects and pollen, which in turn means itchy and heaving horses. That’s right, it’s equine allergy season.
Allergies result when the body responds abnormally to foreign substances, such as insect saliva, pollen, dander, and molds, among others. In horses allergies manifest in many ways, including insect bite hypersensitivity, contact dermatitis, and asthma, with clinical signs such as hives, pruritus (itchiness), hair loss, nasal discharge, and respiratory distress. Diagnosing and then managing allergic horses can be, quite frankly, challenging and requires a whole-animal approach. Veterinary care, medication, nutrition, supplementation, physical barriers (such as fly sheets), and environment/housing all play a role in keeping allergic horses comfortable.
May is The Horse’s Equine Allergy Awareness Month, and to help educate owners about equine allergies, we’ve partnered with KineticVet. Look for allergy-related horse health content all month on TheHorse.com, our Facebook page and Twitter feed, and in our e-newsletters.