As spring moves seamlessly into summer this year, so the new season will bring its own potential health hazards for horses. Hereís what to look out for from late May to August and how to help your horse stay healthy and happy.
This is an allergic reaction to bites from midges (culicoides), characterised by severe irritation along the mane and tail. When horses rub there is hair loss and infected skin abrasions. Veterinary treatment with corticosteroids may provide temporary relief but long-term steroid treatment has associated side effects including laminitis, whilst anti-histamines can cause drowsiness. An insecticide such as Benzyl benzoate may be prescribed, but care should be taken when applying to areas of broken as it can worsen the irritation.
This is localised skin swelling, which varies from small rashes to larger, fluid-filled plaques over the body. Caused by an allergy to something such as fly bites, contact or ingestion of a particular plant the horse is sensitive to. Larger swellings often worsen as the days progress but usually resolve without veterinary intervention but drug treatment may be necessary. If swelling affects your horseís ability to breathe, seek urgent veterinary attention.
A reaction to saliva from a biting fly resulting in a lump or rash with irritation and soreness. If the horse rubs it can become sore and infected. Cleansing with saline or antiseptic solution and removing crusty scabs, followed by the application of a mild antiseptic cream such as E45 will help. Only extremely severe allergic reactions require veterinary treatment. NB Ė It is generally believed that sarcoids grow over winter and multiply during summer, perhaps linked to increasing numbers of flies.
Consider the same prevention tips as for sweet itch.
Sunburn and photosensitisation
Unpigmented areas of skin such as the muzzle are vulnerable to sunburn and photosensitisation (an exaggerated sunburn). Photosensitisation is triggered by ingestion of plants, including some clovers, alfalfa and St. Johnís wort, which makes them more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn.Prevention
Donít forget to take care of yourself too Ė apply sun block frequently and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Riding early in the morning or later in the evening will help to prevent heat stroke, but donít forget to apply insect repellent to dodge those pesky midges!
Author: Andrea McHugh