Feeding a Sweet Itch Sufferer

redfoxhunter

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I know there are millions of threads on sweet itch, but cannot find anything with simple instructions on what to feed!

I manage with a snuggy hoods sweet itch rug/regular baths/clipping and hogging/fly repellent/nettex itch stop salve/coconut oil/avon skin so soft. Horse has also had injection this year, but doesn't seem to be making that much difference - he is a severe case.

Now I want to concentrate on his diet, see if that helps too. He is always fed brewers yeast and micronised linseed. He is a very laid back boy in the summer and takes a lot to get him going. I have heard low sugar/starch for sweet itch sufferes, but can anyone give me simple instructions on exactly what I should be feeding him (so as to not aggravate sweet itch AND to give him that bit of sparkle and energy that he needs)?

Sorry for double post, but wanted plenty of people to see it and wasn't sure on the best place.

Homemade chocolate brownies in return for the help!!
 

Gloi

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We have had sweet itch sufferers for a long time and in all honesty have tried all different feeds and supplements and none of them have made any difference, though linseed does give a nice shiny coat. Haven't found any feed making them worse either despite some people saying alfalfa/barley/soya or whatever made theirs itchy. Spend the money on good rugs/ & repellents.
 
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sychnant

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I wanted to cut out all alfalfa, soya, cereals, sugarbeet and "fillers" like wheatfeed from my SI pony's diet. He's on Thunderbrook grass chaff and base mix.

It sounded like it was going to be expensive but actually seems to last for ages - 1 of each feed lasts my 4 for a month!

If you feed at recommended levels you don't need to add linseed or Brewer's Yeast - mine is not fed anywhere near those levels as he is such a good doer, so I do add BY and Skratch. He gets enough linseed from the feed. All 4 have beautiful coats and skin. The SI is still there, but he isn't horribly scurfy like he was last year, so I think the feed is helping a bit.

Thunderbrook staff are lovely and very happy to help with any queries. I wouldn't feed anything else now.
 

Cortez

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True SI is caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva of a specific midge and as such I don't think feed will have any effect. Itching can be caused by many things, however, and horses can be allergic to feed (my friend has a horse which is allergic to grass AND the midges), in which case the allergen should obviously be removed. Alfalfa, barley and sugar are all suspects.

I have two horses with sweet itch, I don't feed them anything except soaked hay and they have a salt block.
 

Barnacle

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A study was conducted in 1999 on the effect of feed on sweet itch - and found no relationship. Owners think they see an improvement but it's all in their head (confirmation bias).

Horses do have allergies and may react to other things but you really need to be thinking about barriers, insecticides and creams to relieve symptoms - not nutrition.

Also, for the record, sugar is not a suspect - sugar is in everything a horse eats. If sugar is affecting a horse's health, it is likely due to insulin resistance or similar. And that's not the same thing as an allergen. Specific species of plant will contain allergens but sugar itself (meaning glucose or fructose) wouldn't make sense.
 

Cortez

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I believe it's specifically molasses that is the culprit, Barnacle, but haven't seen anything published.
 

_HP_

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No specific diet for sweet itch. A good location , a good rug, some electric fencing to protect the rug and a good repellent should help.
 

_HP_

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I've actually found that regular bathing, clipping etc just leaves the horse more vulnerable to being bitten so I don't do either.
 

Jojo_Pea4

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So sorry to gate crash. My horse is showing signs this year and but he does have dust allergies so was interested in replies. What are good rugs? As have him in a fly rugs but think I need a si rug. What are best fly repellents?
 

MiJodsR2BlinkinTite

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Slopping along on a loose rein somewhere in Devon
Many years ago - and I mean in the days when a pony with sweet itch would be slavered in creosote and sulphur (yes, honestly), the thought then was that "sweet" itch, was a clue to the treatment, i.e. "sweet", as in avoid sweet things like molasses and feed plain stuff.

There is an awful lot of mollasses chucked into proprietory brands, so check your feed bags.

If you've got money to spend...... have a look at "Simple Systems" feeds. Expensive, yes, but they do guarantee to produce stuff that is as pure of gunk like sugar and mollasses as possible.

Oh and avoid garlic, not good for a sweet itch.
 

Leo Walker

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A study was conducted in 1999 on the effect of feed on sweet itch - and found no relationship. Owners think they see an improvement but it's all in their head (confirmation bias).

Horses do have allergies and may react to other things but you really need to be thinking about barriers, insecticides and creams to relieve symptoms - not nutrition.

Also, for the record, sugar is not a suspect - sugar is in everything a horse eats. If sugar is affecting a horse's health, it is likely due to insulin resistance or similar. And that's not the same thing as an allergen. Specific species of plant will contain allergens but sugar itself (meaning glucose or fructose) wouldn't make sense.
Its not conformation bias, well unless both his vets have that as well? :lol: He has sweet itch. Hes nearly 14, hes had him from his yearling summer. It is bites from midges that cause him to itch, but on the right diet and with no access to lush grass etc, he can tolerate the bite without a reaction, or with only a very mild one, as opposed to very extreme.

He went to vet horsepital for 3 days, didnt get his supplements, and was fed haylage and cubes. He was sent home, as he was starting to itch and give himself lesions and open sores.
 

Gloi

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The biggest difference to a horse can be the environment it is kept in, whether the field is breezy, number of midges etc. The horse was in a different environment at the hospital. Lush grass can make the sweet itch worse as lush grass can hide an awful lot more midges than tightly cropped grass.
 

Notimetoride

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I seem to be the the only person on the H&H Forum we swears by feeding Forever Living Aloe Vera gel. Ive never seen anyone else mention it. I was once told to deal with the allergic reaction internally, and I was recommended the Aloe Vera gel (albeit by a Forever Living rep!) I was desperate and tried it and lo and behold, it worked a treat - almost like an antihistamine. I swear by the stuff (and no, Im not a Forever Living sales rep - far from it). It is called 'gel' but it is actually a liquid which you put in the feed as a supplement :)
 

redfoxhunter

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Shropshire
So sorry to gate crash. My horse is showing signs this year and but he does have dust allergies so was interested in replies. What are good rugs? As have him in a fly rugs but think I need a si rug. What are best fly repellents?
Fly repellents I've found most effective at the Net Tex Advanced and Leovet Power Phaser. I've finally settled on a Snuggy Hoods rug and hood, went through a fair few different brands and this is the most suited so far!

Thank you everyone for the helpful comments, I think I will try molasses free to start with and go from there. I have read some things on the Aloe Vera gel, so very tempted.

I'm at a point where I will try anything!!
 

FairyLights

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eliminate alfalfa from the diet and my vet told me to feed piriton daily. one of my horses currently has 10 piriton per day and the other is on 14. thisgoes up to 25 each per day in July and AUgust, they dont need it in the late autumn and winter, Something to do wit hthe sugars and or pollen in grass. symptoms exactly the same as SI. One of mine tested negative for culloides miidge bite but still had a boett as it helps. Piriton is cheap in bulk I pay £10 for 500 from the vet.
Hope this helps.
 

redfoxhunter

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137
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Shropshire
eliminate alfalfa from the diet and my vet told me to feed piriton daily. one of my horses currently has 10 piriton per day and the other is on 14. thisgoes up to 25 each per day in July and AUgust, they dont need it in the late autumn and winter, Something to do wit hthe sugars and or pollen in grass. symptoms exactly the same as SI. One of mine tested negative for culloides miidge bite but still had a boett as it helps. Piriton is cheap in bulk I pay £10 for 500 from the vet.
Hope this helps.
Thank your FairyLights, he does have 10 piriton a day (starting around March), but didn't realise you could put it up to 25 during the bad months!
 
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