If you’ve ever had a horse who has had hives, you know how alarming the appearance of hives can be. Hives are more likely to occur in the spring and summer, so let’s brush up on what causes them and what to do if they occur.

What Hives Look Like

A horse with a case of hives will have patches of raised skin that are somewhat circular in shape. Hives can be small and in small patches on your horse’s body, but more serious cases may feature hives larger than your fist which are located across your horse’s entire body. In some cases hives may be itchy or painful. Regardless of how hives are present on your horse, understanding what made them occur is important.

Why Hives Occur

The causes for hives in horses are widespread, which can make pinpointing the exact source a challenge. There are countless environmental factors which can cause a horse to develop hives, such as hypersensitivity to insect bites, an allergy to something in your horse’s diet, reactions to medications, and even an allergic reaction to items like vaccines, dewormers, fly spray, coat conditioner, or bedding.

Determining the Cause

If your horse suddenly develops a case of hives, the best first move is to consider what may have changed in his environment during the previous two weeks. Have you changed the grooming products you use, de-wormed your horse, or added a new supplement to his diet? Perhaps you are trying out a new fly spray, type of bedding, or hay source. Turning your horse out in a new field can expose him to weeds which could potentially be the source of his hives.

One technique to pinpoint the cause of your horse’s hives is to eliminate the items which could potentially cause the hives. This needs to be done slowly, and each item needs to be removed you’re your horse one at a time for two weeks so that you can identify the culprit. With potential causes for hives being so widespread, this elimination method can be a challenge. Your veterinarian may recommend that you have your horse tested for sensitivities, much in the same way that humans undergo allergen testing.

Treating Hives

Many horse owners treat minor, localized cases of hives on their own by means of cold hosing. However, hives generally indicate an allergy, so it is always best to get your veterinarian involved right away. Depending on your horse’s case, your veterinarian may treat the hives with steroids, antihistamines, and topical medications.

While you wait for your horse’s hives to resolve, you can keep your horse more comfortable by cold hosing the affected areas. Using a fly sheet, a fly mask, and leg fly wraps can give your horse protection against flies in case fly bites are to blame, while you might also consider keeping your horse inside during the day when flies are at their worst. Practicing good fly management techniques can also help your horse.

The source of a hive outbreak can be a challenge to diagnose, but hopefully the hive outbreak is minor and will quickly resolve on its own.

Photo source: ingimage.com

Original source: What To Do If Your Horse Has Hives

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Comment by Marlene Thoms on April 13, 2015 at 5:42pm

My horse seems to suffer from sweet itch (midge bites), is that a type of hives? I have found a combination of better fly rug, sprays and b1 that seems to help. But it sure can make them miserable.

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