Common Allergies During Spring
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Many horse owners do not realize that their horses get allergies just like people do. An allergy is caused by an over exposure to a stimulus. Equine allergies are generally a result of an over reactive immune system. In the spring, this usually results in an allergy to pollen or other air-born particles.
Equine allergies are just as uncomfortable for your horse as springtime allergies are uncomfortable for you. Allergies can also make horses lose weight, perform poorly, or cause disability in horses and ponies. It is important that you take your horse’s allergies seriously and do your best to make them comfortable and alleviate their symptoms.
There are many common equine allergies, including pollen, air born particles such as dust, insects, care products such as shampoo, and cleaning products such as used on saddles. The most common equine allergies in the spring are pollen and dust. As things dry out, the dust can become more of a problem than in the winter. Pollen counts rise, as do mold counts, as the spring wears on. As the allergens become more prevalent, there becomes a greater risk to your horse of producing allergic reactions. Allergens are most commonly in the air in barns and in animal transport trailers. However, there are ways to counteract this buildup of allergens.
If you are completely unsure if allergies are the cause of your horse’s symptoms, or if you only suspect that they may be having allergic reactions to their environment, you can have your horse tested by your vet. The vet will rule out more serious problems, and then do an allergy battery to determine exactly what your horse is allergic to.
If you are not certain that your horse is suffering from allergies, you should consider the following symptoms. There are many different ways that an allergic reaction may present itself in your horse, and symptoms can vary. However, some symptoms are common, especially for spring time allergies such as pollen and air-born particles. You may notice your horse itching, and this is sometimes blown off as insects biting the skin. However, it may be an allergic reaction.
The most common allergic reaction is heaves. Heaves are characterized by coughing and nasal discharge. It will appear much like asthma in people. You may also notice some wheezing from your horse, and see a noticeable heave line between the flank and thorax. It is important that if your horse has the heaves that you get him or her treated right away. In severe cases, heaves can lead to weight loss.Your first step in both prevention and treatment is to determine what your horse is actually allergic to. For spring allergies, this is easier to determine than if your horse develops hives in reaction to something in their stable or that they have come into contact with.
If the allergies occur seemingly out of nowhere, evaluate your horse’s environment and diet. Has anything been changed? If so, change it back to the way it was before your horse developed an allergic reaction, and see if that does the trick. It should work, but if it doesn’t and you can’t figure out what your horse is allergic to, you will probably have to schedule a visit with the vet to help you determine the cause and treatment for your horse’s allergies.
If the allergies occur only in the spring or worse in the spring, your horse is probably allergic to pollen, dust and/or mold. These allergens are born on the air and can affect your horse whether they are in the stable or out in the pasture. In the stable it is much easier to prevent allergies, because you can get filters that filter the air of air-born particles such as these. Allergens are often worse in transport as well, but these can also be easily combated with cabin air filters.
Cabin air filters will filter allergens from the air as it comes into the trailer. This will greatly decrease the amount of allergens your horse is exposed to, which should also decrease their symptoms significantly. You can also make sure that you keep your stable and transport clean, as well as the blankets used in the stable or trailer. This will help cut down on allergens such as dust and mold.
For allergies that are very severe, you may need to employ treatment as well as precautionary measures. There are various treatments for equine allergies just as there are for human allergies. The most common treatment is a series of allergy shots given by your vet. The shots will alleviate many of the symptoms that your horse is having, including heaves.
If you want to try some treatments before going to the vet for allergy shots, there are several things you might consider. First, giving a horse omega 3 fatty acids can greatly help reduce inflammation caused by allergies. Seasonal allergies can also be alleviated by giving your horse supplements such as MSM and prebiotics.
For more information on how allergies may affect your horse during Spring and during transport, please give our team a call on 1300 157 122.
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