Allergies in Horses: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Like people and other animals, horses can suffer from allergies too. If your horse develops allergies, you’ll want to address them right away to keep your horse healthy and comfortable.

What Are Allergies?

An allergy or an allergic reaction is an abnormal reaction of the immune system to a normally harmless substance called an allergen. This reaction causes the release of substances such as histamine and prostaglandins that cause inflammation.
Allergies can develop at any time in a horse’s life and usually occur after repeated or prolonged exposure to a particular allergen.

Symptoms of Allergies in Horses

Allergies in horses can express themselves in two different ways with dermatological symptoms and/or respiratory symptoms.
The most common allergic reaction in horses is to develop an itchy rash or hives on the skin that cause the horse to scratch or rub against objects. Horses can also experience respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and nasal discharge.

Common Allergens and Causes of Allergies in Horses

Almost any substance your horse is exposed to has the potential to become an allergen. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to identify what type of substance is irritating your horse without performing allergy tests.
Some common allergens and irritants for horses include:

Equine Allergy Prevention

The best treatment for allergies is always preventing them from occurring by helping your horse to avoid allergens and allergy triggers.
If your horse suffers from rashes as a result of a topical product, then discontinue using it. If your horse develops rashes as a result of insect bites, do your best to keep your horse protected from insects and your stables insect-free by using insect repellents and flypaper.
If your horse has respiratory allergies, do your best to keep its stable and bedding clean and free from dust and mold. It is also worth considering using a feed that is less dusty than hay and storing hay in a location away from where your horse sleeps. If your horse suffers from respiratory allergies, it is better to let them spend as much time outdoors as possible, rather than inside a dusty stable where there is not very good airflow.

Equine Allergy Treatment at Advanced Equine of the Hudson Valley

When preventative measures do not provide adequate relief, there are a variety of treatments available to address allergies in horses. If your horse suffers from allergies, we recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our equine veterinarians.