Horses can develop allergies, just like humans. Allergies in the horse have been related to weed, grass and tree pollens; along with dust mites, foods and molds contained in damp hay, straw or bedding materials. Equine allergies can manifest with respiratory or dermatological symptoms caused by exposure to allergens through direct contact, food ingestion or inhalation of airborne pollens. Allergic disease can severely impair the performance of competition horses and causes great discomfort and disability in leisure horses and ponies. The most challenging part of any allergy management program is to identify the specific allergens that cause a horse to suffer. An accurate diagnosis requires a detailed patient history, an assessment of the horse’s environmental surroundings, and a full clinical examination.
Equine allergy testing starts with a small amount of blood drawn from your horse and the serum sent to the laboratory for testing. Results are usually received back within 1-2 weeks. The comprehensive panel tests for up to 90 individual allergens. This includes weed, tree and grass pollens as well as molds, mites, insects and feed ingredients. Treating your horse after allergens are identified will consist of immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a safe and effective long term treatment that gradually builds the horse’s immunity to the specific allergens causing the discomfort. Injections under the skin start off small and frequent to higher doses less often (7-14 days apart). There is no cure for allergies, but they can be managed. With careful attention and dedication, immunotherapy is a highly effective treatment for allergies. Steroid and antihistamine therapies are successful short term options, but prolonged use of these drugs can have serious side effects.
Professional Equine has partnered with MedaVet to provide a secure, easy to use online healthcare management web site to help coordinate the treatment plan for your horse. It was designed to simplify and streamline the healthcare process and provide valuable information about allergy treatment, as well as a quick and easy way to communicate with the veterinarian on your horse’s progress.