This week on Horse Guide we will look into the very common ailment, that is sweet itch.Sweet itch is a common ailment fror horses and as with any animal the most important thing is to ensure they maintain a balanced horse diet and adequate living conditions.
Information and symptoms:
Also known as pruritus, causes horses to bite scratch or rub their skin.
The sensation can be so severe that horses can cause serious damage to their skin.
In severe case it can mean a horse being unable to carry a rider.
In most cases the reaction occurs at the mane, tail and dorsal midline, where an insect attack has occurred.
Lesions around the ears and head are also common.
The intensive itching can cause broken hairs in the animal, bleeding skin, and bald patches.
Without treatment, the self-inflicted wounds can become infected, making the condition more serious for the animal.
It is caused by stimulation of a special nerve ending and receptor in the skin.
There are three main causes in horses, these include: midget bites (ectoparasites), infections and allergies.
Horses are more susceptible at this time of year, due to increased ectoparasite numbers.
Treatment and preventatives:
Insecticides and repellents can be used for a badly infected horse.
These can be applied to the horse or indeed to its environment to prevent further attacks.
Water supplies should be checked and drained regularly to prevent the insects responsible from breeding further and contaminating the water supply.
Moving a horse away from a large body of water (lakes, rivers etc) can also help prevent attacks, as midgets tend to be found more often in these areas.
Fly sheets can also be used to help avoid contact with these biting insects, a ceiling fan in a stable also stops them from entering the building.
Whilst a fly screen during spring and summer months is a very solid way of stopping the problem.
Topical oils can be rubbed into the animal and help discourage insects from feeding on the animal.
Keeping horses in windy environments also helps greatly as there are usually less biting insects.
Nutritional supplements can also be given to your horse with many farmers swearing by it.
Antihistamines can also be given to an animal, though there are side effects so advice should be sought from a vet first.
In cases of secondary infections it is strongly advised to contact your vet for an antibiotic for your horse.
Immunotherapies have also been used with varied success, as have herbal remedies though there are no significant studies to back them up.
Thanks to Spillers you can find out how to help give your horse a sporting chance by providing the right diet. You can find out more information right here.