Equine Allergies- Ditch the Itch

Diagnosing and managing equine allergies involves a combination of veterinary assessment, identifying allergens, and implementing appropriate medications and management strategies.


  1. Veterinary Examination:

    • Schedule a thorough examination with a veterinarian if you suspect your horse has allergies.
    • Provide a detailed medical history, including any recent changes in diet, environment, or grooming products.
  2. Allergy Testing:

    • In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend allergy testing to identify specific allergens.
    • Tests may include skin testing or blood tests to detect antibodies related to allergies.
  3. Observational Assessment:

    • Observe your horse for signs of allergies, such as itching, hives, respiratory distress, or changes in behavior.
    • Note any patterns or triggers for allergic reactions.

Skin Allergies:

  1. Common Allergens:

    • Fact: Horses can be allergic to various substances, including certain plants, insects, or even specific grooming products.
    • Treatment: Antihistamines or corticosteroids may be used to alleviate itching and inflammation.
  2. Sweet Itch Sensitivity:

    • Fact: Some horses are particularly sensitive to bites from Culicoides midges, causing a condition known as sweet itch.
    • Treatment: Topical creams, fly sheets, and insect control measures can help manage sweet itch.
  3. Contact Dermatitis:

    • Fact: Horses can develop skin allergies from contact with irritants, such as certain bedding materials or plants.
    • Treatment: Identifying and avoiding the irritant is key. Topical creams or ointments may be recommended.

Respiratory Allergies:

  1. Hay Fever in Horses:

    • Fact: Like humans, horses can experience hay fever due to pollen allergies.
    • Treatment: Antihistamines or corticosteroids may help manage respiratory symptoms.
  2. Mold and Dust Sensitivity:

    • Fact: Some horses are sensitive to mold and dust present in hay or bedding.
    • Treatment: Providing clean, dust-free hay and minimizing exposure to dusty environments can help. Antihistamines may be used for symptom relief.
  3. Exercise-Induced Allergies:

    • Fact: Horses, like humans, can experience allergies triggered by exercise.
    • Treatment: Managing the horse's environment and using bronchodilators may help alleviate exercise-induced respiratory allergies.


  1. Identify and Eliminate Allergens:

    • Work with your veterinarian to identify and eliminate or minimize exposure to known allergens.
    • This may involve changes in bedding, feed, pasture, grooming products, or insect control.
  2. Environmental Management:

    • Keep the horse's environment clean and well-ventilated.
    • Minimize dust, mold, and allergens in hay by using quality hay and storing it properly.
  3. Fly and Insect Control:

    • Implement effective fly and insect control measures to reduce exposure to biting insects that may trigger allergies.
  4. Topical Treatments:

    • For skin allergies, use topical treatments as recommended by your veterinarian.
    • This may include medicated shampoos, creams, or ointments to soothe and treat affected areas.

  5. Medications:

    • Your veterinarian may prescribe medications such as antihistamines or corticosteroids to manage allergy symptoms.
    • Follow the prescribed dosage and administration guidelines.

  6. Immunotherapy (Desensitization):

    • In some cases, immunotherapy may be recommended based on allergy testing results.
    • This involves administering small amounts of allergens to help the horse build tolerance over time.

  7. Dietary Adjustments:

    • Work with your veterinarian to assess the horse's diet and identify potential allergens.
    • Adjust the diet as needed, considering alternative feeds or supplements.

Remember, equine allergies can vary widely, and the management approach should be tailored to the individual horse. Regular communication with your veterinarian is essential for effective diagnosis, management, and adjustments to the treatment plan as needed.