Itch, itch, itch—scratch, scratch-scratch. Bumpy skin, blisters—even weeping sores or bug bites gone bad. Sound familiar? Allergy season is here, wreaking havoc on your horse’s skin and your patience.
Some horses are more sensitive than others. They might start coughing, or their legs might swell. They might further damage their skin by rubbing on fence posts or biting at themselves, leading to infections. Then there are those hive-covered hides, which can be just as frustrating, even if there’s no itching. Though spring and summer seem to be the worst time for such maladies, they can occur any time of year or even year ’round in some individuals. What to do?
Before you call your vet for another corticosteroid shot, consider investing in an oral equine supplement that specifically addresses that sometimes non-specific dermatitis (skin inflammation). We’re talking about all those skin issues that might have YOU scratching your head.
“But I already give my horse a complete feed with Omega 3s and Omega 6s,” you might say. While these essential fatty acids do help reduce skin reactivity to allergens, they’re not always enough to keep severe allergic reactions at bay; all too often, the situation calls for something stronger.
Which brings us to the matter of shots: While corticosteroids like dexamethasone and prescription antihistamines can stop hives or rashes in their tracks, these powerful drugs can also have unwanted side effects. Administered long-term, some can even lead to immune suppression, liver damage or even laminitis. Clearly, drug-based solutions should be used only occasionally and with discretion—not regularly on a horse that breaks out often.
To complicate matters further, sensitive or allergic horses are rarely only sensitive or allergic to one thing; and just like with humans, their sensitivities and allergies can change and even worsen over time. This can make it difficult to determine and permanently eliminate all the allergen sources from their environment. Even blood tests and allergy shots are, at best, tools for management of a problem that might last the lifetime of the horse.
This is where a more natural approach, in the form of a targeted oral supplement designed to address allergic skin, is worth exploring. Look for a quality, research-based formulation that works to not only relieve the swelling and/or itching, but to prevent such outbreaks on a daily basis by supporting healthy immune function. The goal: to tackle the problem as safely as possible—for as long as possible—without causing additional health issues.
Proven ingredients to look for include:
- quercetin, a natural antihistamine;
- MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), a natural anti-inflammatory;
- rice bran, which has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties;
- Vitamin E, a well-known antioxidant;
- stabilized flaxseed, which can help minimize the immune response to common allergens.
You might also look for a supplement that includes ingredients to keep the skin hydrated during times of stress.
Every horse reacts differently to different therapies. But when allergies strike, consider searching for a long-term solution that is both effective and safe.