Very itchy horse. Suggestions please

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Marty

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I've run out of ideas so would appreciate your input.

I have had this girl since she was 5 months old. She is now 7.

This spring she started becoming very itchy all over her face and body. She body slams herself into the fence and in the stall walls and has rubbed off the skin on her face. She is kept body clipped so sweating under a heavy coat is not the problem. I also do not see any type of bug bites or bumps on her either and I have scoured the pastures for something like ants or something weird growing and have come up empty. We do not have trees or bushes or anything that would lead to allergies or blooming.

There have been no changes in bedding type, hay, environment. I groom a lot and do not see any sign of lice and have stripped her stall religiously and disinfected it. I have seen her roll around on the ground itching outside a lot so clearly this isn't a problem contained in the barn.

I considered her being allergic to clipper oil or blade wash but she has not been shaved now in several weeks so that's not it.

I have done everything I could think of:

medicated baths

topical meds to stop itching and promote the hair to grow back to no avail. She is terribly uncomfortable.

The only thing I can think of is there has been a change of feed from Strategy to Purina Miniature Horse and Pony feed but the time line is not there for that either. I started feeding that about a year ago, and I can't imagine what could be in that food she can be allergic too so I am completely stumped.

She is the only horse with this problem.

What am I missing here?
 

Carolyn R

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I don,'t know what the cause could be, but have you tried benadryl for short term relief. Not sure on the dose but I know it can be given for bee stings and such when it comes to equines.
 

Marty

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CAROLYN I HEART YOU SO BAD!!! I never thought of that! I will soooooo try that. Ok so if anyone happens to know the dosage please respond. She's about 34 inches, large boned.
 

WashingtonCowgirl

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Is her skin/hair dry? Maybe the addition of some good oils and fats (rice bran or black oil sunflower seeds) would help lessen the itching
default_smile.png
 

drmatthewtaylor

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It is less important to consider the cause and more important to start appropriate therapy. Many causes are already gone or at least never figured out. The allergic reaction can last long past removal of the allergen anyway.

Antihistamines aren't an awful idea, but are likely too weak on their own to help much. Secondary skin infections are itchy also and need to be addressed.

Your Vet needs to start working on this, but be prepared, these can be frustrating cases requiring many visits and trial and error.

Dr. Taylor
 

wingnut

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You might want to have your vet do some skin scrapings to look for the kind of critters that you can't see with the naked eye. Things like chiggers and other mites that like to burrow under the skin. In our area, foxes spread these things around like crazy. Many dogs in our area are picking them up from their yards where a fox has been passing through. I have "itchy" dogs, but it's allergy related to everything in one case, and nearly impossible to treat/manage. I know how it feels to see your animal miserable from it and not being sure what to do.
 

Marsha Cassada

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My 15 year old gelding has never had an itchy problem. Until this year. About July he started rubbing his mane and even had some raw places on his rump. I bathed him with coal tar shampoo. His long, thick mane looked terrible. I ended up clipping it all off last week. I am thinking it may have had something to do with our fierce heat and drought last year. There has been a change in our enviornment, whether plants or insects. We had hardly any flies this year, nor ticks.

He is fine now.

There was a discussion recently about clipping manes, and how fast and well they would regrow. So I decided to shave Dapper Dan's; we'll see how it comes out.

I am wondering if your girl had a vaccination recently. I am getting suspicious and wary of vaccinations now.

Marty, you are one of the main gurus on this forum. We're counting on you to find some answers!
 

shelterwood

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Marty,

Fall is the absolute WORST time for sweet itch sufferers. It would seem not so, but my mare suffers terribly from Sept-end of Oct, and we are in a much colder climate than you. My guess is that Tennessee is still rocking and rolling with no seeums and other little biting insects. If this is not an allergic reaction to something like feed, I would suspect a bug allergy or even a seasonal allergy to a certain plant or pollen possibly. Sweet itch can develop at any time in a horse's life, and typically turns up between the ages of 1-7 yrs, sometimes after a period of stress but sometimes with no clues as to why it started at a certain time. You typically will not see any "bug bites" with midges. My vet has exhausted all other issues, from bloodwork to scrapings. This year my 4 yr old mare is having her worst fall yet, rubbing her mane off in the center, which I finally just roached :-(, and her tail is pathetic. Skin is itchy, flaky, coat dull despite excellent nutrition and grooming. I have used benadryl as well as Zyrtec at differing times, neither really seemed to do a whole lot. My mare is 40" or so, stocky, I gave her 5-6 tablets of 25mg each of benadryl. Basically just figured weight and adjusted the adult human dose accordingly. We have also tried Atarax, a prescription strength antihistamine, with really no better results and more drowsiness. My mare wears a Boett blanket from April to November, this year I slacked because we were having some really cold nights this past few weeks and I thought the midges were gone, but alas, she was back to itching like crazy. Replaced the rug, complete with hood and after a few days to break the itch cycle, she is better again. While I hope this isn't what is bugging your horse, pun intended, it can be managed. Some say flax seed helps with the inflammation, I saw no results. I tried MSM this summer and saw little help. Really, keeping her covered seems to be the only thing that works. Also, coal tar/pine tar shampoos to help control the excessive skin cell slough seems to help, but it's too cold here now for that. My mare will begin to improve around November, regrow all her lovely hair, look amazing by April, then start all over again. See if this pattern fits with your climate.

Marsha, my mare's issues started after a very bad vaccine reaction as a 2 year old. It is interesting, and many think that sweet itch is an autoimmune issue.
 

Lil Timber Buck

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Marty,

Fall is the absolute WORST time for sweet itch sufferers. It would seem not so, but my mare suffers terribly from Sept-end of Oct, and we are in a much colder climate than you. My guess is that Tennessee is still rocking and rolling with no seeums and other little biting insects. If this is not an allergic reaction to something like feed, I would suspect a bug allergy or even a seasonal allergy to a certain plant or pollen possibly. Sweet itch can develop at any time in a horse's life, and typically turns up between the ages of 1-7 yrs, sometimes after a period of stress but sometimes with no clues as to why it started at a certain time. You typically will not see any "bug bites" with midges. My vet has exhausted all other issues, from bloodwork to scrapings. This year my 4 yr old mare is having her worst fall yet, rubbing her mane off in the center, which I finally just roached :-(, and her tail is pathetic. Skin is itchy, flaky, coat dull despite excellent nutrition and grooming. I have used benadryl as well as Zyrtec at differing times, neither really seemed to do a whole lot. My mare is 40" or so, stocky, I gave her 5-6 tablets of 25mg each of benadryl. Basically just figured weight and adjusted the adult human dose accordingly. We have also tried Atarax, a prescription strength antihistamine, with really no better results and more drowsiness. My mare wears a Boett blanket from April to November, this year I slacked because we were having some really cold nights this past few weeks and I thought the midges were gone, but alas, she was back to itching like crazy. Replaced the rug, complete with hood and after a few days to break the itch cycle, she is better again. While I hope this isn't what is bugging your horse, pun intended, it can be managed. Some say flax seed helps with the inflammation, I saw no results. I tried MSM this summer and saw little help. Really, keeping her covered seems to be the only thing that works. Also, coal tar/pine tar shampoos to help control the excessive skin cell slough seems to help, but it's too cold here now for that. My mare will begin to improve around November, regrow all her lovely hair, look amazing by April, then start all over again. See if this pattern fits with your climate.

Marsha, my mare's issues started after a very bad vaccine reaction as a 2 year old. It is interesting, and many think that sweet itch is an autoimmune issue.
Shelter wood, not sure if you're still on here 10 years later but I just found your reply and this is great info. I'm going to look up those blankets. My boy is miserable from those gnats
 

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