Nutrition and Health

Skin Irritations in the Horse

15 November 2017

Skin Irritations in the Horse

Many owners find Spring and Summer to be challenging times for managing horses with skin conditions. Joanne Wallace from Thompson & Redwood explains how herbs may assist in keeping irritated horses more comfortable.

Skin irritations are a common ailment in horses, particularly around Spring and Summer time. As the insects start to hatch and plants release pollen that can cause allergies, horses will often develop skin conditions such as Hives and Sweet Itch (otherwise known as Queensland Itch). But what can be done to help keep our horses itch-free and happy during these months?

First off, it’s important to understand WHY your horse has developed skin irritations. This may not be a straightforward answer; often, it’s a combination of factors that can be difficult to isolate.  Whether it’s an allergic reaction to pollen and moulds, reactions to drugs, allergies to food, or a reaction to biting insects such as lice, midges and flies, there are many reasons that your horse may be itching, rubbing and uncomfortable.

As with many things, the best treatment for skin conditions is to eliminate the source of the problem. However, this is not always possible; perhaps the problem is coming from pollens in the air that simply can’t be avoided, or perhaps you are unable to find the source of the problem. Often, skin irritations like Sweet Itch can be initially caused when horses with sensitive skin experience some form of metabolic stress, which can then be further maintained and exasperated by residents (often fungal) if the immune system is not totally healthy.

One option for horses experiencing skin irritations is to feed a herbal based supplement to relieve the itch. For example the Dodson and Horrell ‘Itch-Free’ herbal blend can be useful in relieving or stopping the reaction and ‘itchiness’ associated with some skin conditions. Whilst it doesn’t stop the insects from biting, it can help keep your horse more comfortable whilst further investigation into the source of the issue. Of course, we would always advise specialist veterinary expertise in addition, particularly in more severe cases.

This supplement contains a carefully blended mix of herbs (including Chamomile, Nettle, Burdock root and Garlic Granules), and is ideal for horses prone to conditions like Sweet Itch. Designed by an expert herbalist to maintain skin and coat health, the dry blend is simply added to your horse’s feed.

More and more evidence is accumulating for the benefits that can be gained by using medicinal herbs. In this particular case, chamomile has long been renowned for its calming properties, as a digestive remedy and an anti-inflammatory. Nettle can help improve the integrity of the skin, whilst burdock root is thought to have an antibiotic effect. Garlic granules have been shown to support the immune and circulatory systems.

Thus, whilst skin irritations can be hard to treat and diagnose, particularly in the Spring and Summer months when there can be so many possibly causes, there are certain things we can do for our horses to keep them happy and comfortable. One is using herbal based supplements to improve immune function and skin health, as well as using trial and error to determine what the root cause of the irritation is (and consequently eliminate this, where possible).

Itch Free

The D&H Itch Free can be purchased at WA local stockfeed stores or online Australia wide at Thompson and Redwood.


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