Spring is almost here! As the weather begins to warm up, keep an eye out for common skin conditions on your horse. The warm temperature and moisture in the air increases the risk of skin conditions such as insect bites, pollen allergies, Pastern Dermatitis, and Rain Scald. Be on the lookout for any unusual bumps on your horse’s skin, and be aware of how you can help. By taking action quickly, your horse will be happy and healthy all season long!
Insect Bite Allergies
Allergy to insect saliva is very common amongst Equines. During the spring, horses are commonly susceptible to bites of mosquitoes, deer flies, stable flies, or blackflies. These bites will cause irritation on your horse’s skin regardless, but beware that bites can cause allergic reactions as well. A severe allergic reaction called “summer itch” occurs when the horse is bitten by tiny midges. Be surveilent if your horse is itching their body, especially if the skin becomes inflamed and scabbed. Common areas for insect bites are the neck, chest, stomach, and tail. If bitten by insects, your horse may try to scratch the affected area on fences or trees nearby. Certain breeds including Icelandic Horses, Welsh Ponies and Shires are more commonly susceptible to hypersensitivity. If your horse is suffering from insect bites or allergy, it is very important to treat the affected area as well as isolate the horse from further exposure to bites. The #1 rated system to control this skin problem is to combine the strongest fly spray in the USA (RK Topical Fly Spray) with oral summer eczema powder. The RK repels and kills gnats/flies for 8 hours and the SE oral powder helps calm skin, assists in healing wounds , prevents rubbing and sores on skin.
When spring vegetation starts to bloom, it is common that your horse can experience a pollen allergy. Though pollen allergies are most common in the spring, they can also carry out through the summer and fall seasons. The onset of a pollen allergy is dependent on the growth of flowers and trees in your particular area. Signs that your horse is experiencing a pollen allergy include respiratory blockages called “heaves” or skin irritation. Most commonly, if your horse is experiencing an allergy they will show one of these signs, but not both. Heaves are a respiratory obstruction in your horse that can be identified by a cough, nasal discharge, and breathing difficulty. Symptoms of heaves typically take place in horses over the age of nine years. On the skin, a pollen allergy can present itself in the form of hives. Hives are small white bumps on the skin, possibly accompanied by itching. Hives will likely be located on the horse's face or joints (where there are folds in the skin). Horses who have known allergies to pollen are more likely to be sensitive to other allergens as well. To cure any hives or irritation, treat your horse with an anti-inflammatory or an antihistamine. Topical creams can also be used to subside itching on the skin.
Moisture in the spring air can cause scabs on the skin between your horse’s heels and fetlocks. Pastern Dermatitis, also known as “scratches”, is an inflammation of the skin on the horse’s lower legs. Pastern Dermatitis occurs between cycles of wetting and drying the skin. Through this cycle, bacteria is able to foster and invade the skin. This inflammation of the skin opens the door to secondary bacterial infections. Signs of Pastern Dermatitis include scabs or irritation of your horse’s lower legs. Horses who spend time in wet conditions with long hair around their legs are more prone to this kind of infection. If you suspect that your horse has Pastern Dermatitis it is advised to seek veterinary help. At home, you should cleanse the infected area with an antiseptic wash and apply ointment. To avoid any further infection, keep your horse dry and trim the hair around their ankles.
An infection called Rain Scald or Rain Rot is similar to that of Pastern Dermatitis. Rain Scald occurs when your horse has wet skin and an open wound (possibly due to bite scratching). This environment makes it easy for bacteria to enter and infect the skin. Rain Scald is common in the spring due to the combination of insect bites and moisture in the air. As horses experience insect bites they will scratch the infected area, allowing bacteria to infect the skin. Bacteria from Rain Scald can be passed from horse to horse through direct contact. This bacteria can also potentially be passed to humans. Signs of Rain Scald in your horse include white raised scabs with tufts on their coat. The scabs will likely form in areas that are constantly wet. Any horse who is exposed to consistently wet weather, in the form of rainfall or wet pasture, is at risk for Rain Scald. If your horse has Rain Scald it is important to dry out the skin immediately, and clip their hair to allow for air exposure. Mild cases can be cured easily through topical lotions and wipes. Benzoyl Peroxide is a great solution to open the hair follicles and get rid of scabs.
Protecting Your Horse
To protect your horse from the elements this spring, you can purchase preventative topical treatments, dietary supplements, and insect repellants. At Equine, we offer dietary supplements and topical sprays to keep your horse in perfect health this spring. Our Heave-Ho supplement is great for horses experiencing respiratory allergies or asthma. Ingredients including vitamin E help in fortifying your horse’s immune system using phytonutrients, immune modulators, adaptogens to help deal with the stress of breathing issues and anti-inflammatories.
To repel ticks, mosquitos, gnats, and flies check out our RK Topical Spray. RK Topical Spray will help avoid skin damage due to spring eczema and hives, providing protection for up to 8 hours. Also check out our oral summer eczema powder that, combined with RK spray, will prevent problems from happening.
To be prepared for the spring, look out for these common skin irritations on your horse and be aware of how to prevent them. It is important to keep your horse out of wet conditions and repel any malicious insects, especially if your horse has a pre-existing allergy. Follow these guidelines to ensure a healthy spring season for your horse!