Sweet itch

Jojo_Pea4

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My horse has had skin allergies from dust mites and been on treatment. They look like hives all over his body.

For a week he has been rubbing his tail and to the point of now bleeding. I have washed his tail and been applying an lotion recommend to me. Nothing has changed in his environment, can sweet itch just come on when no signs before? Any advice appreciated
 

Gloi

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Yes, unfortunately horses can develop sweet itch when they didn't previously have it. He may be itching as a result of his other allergies but treating him and managing him as a sweet itch horse will reduce the amount he can damage himself.
 

PorkChop

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Unusual for an older horse, but possible - I think I would make sure he is covered up until you can establish whether he is itching because of allergies or midges.

Have the midges started in your area yet?
 

Jojo_Pea4

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I've not seen many around, i've got him in a fly rug in and out of his stable to see if this helps. Going to spring clean his stable and put fresh bedding down as this is what flares up his allergies. He is only rubbing it in the stable but is fine out in the field.
 

oldjumper

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Yes, sweet itch can suddenly start in a horse that has never suffered from it before. He might be rubbing in stable because there's more stuff to scratch on, or he's bored or whatever he's allergic to is more prevalent. Unfortunately, horses that have sweet itch are often very sensitive/allergic to other things as well. Cover him up and get all the advice you can - there's no one thing that help's all. Good luck.
 

MiJodsR2BlinkinTite

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Slopping along on a loose rein somewhere in Devon
There is a huge wealth of information in the archives concerning sweet itch, so worth a "search".

Main thing is to stop the midges from biting in the first place, which will mean you will need a "sweet itch hoody" rug for your horse, either that or one of the Boett type rugs. I use the Rambo SI hoody for mine, or Premier Equine do a good SI rug as well.

Then you will need to look at grazing regime as if the SI is bad you may need to stable during periods when the midges are active, especially dawn and dusk.

Then you can think about supplements........... but avoid garlic as this isn't always the best thing for a sweet itch and a lot of the proprietory keep-flyies-away supplements have them. Save your money! Feed brewers yeast, linseed, and cider vinegar, and also some chopped up Clivers (sticky stuff which grows in the hedges at this time of the year) in the feed. Also dried nettles is apparently very good as it is a natural antihistimine. Oh and take care to avoid sugar in feeds as much as you can, so go for "mollasses free". Its very annoying how much sugar and mollasses is sneaked into proprietory brand feeds.

As you're not totally sure though that this IS sweet itch proper, I'd be inclined to ask the vet to take some bloods from your horse. This would indicate if other allergens are present, and also would indicate the severity of the allergy. Often Sweet Itch is a complex allergy and in your horse's case it could be something other than midge-bite saliva, i.e. grasses, pollens etc.
 

Jojo_Pea4

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Thank you for replies.
He is only rubbing his tail nowhere else. He has a fly rug on but need to order a si rug. I just don't know how to treat and stop him scratching all the time. His allergies are dust mites so the opposite of si he is better living out.
 

oldjumper

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10 February 2013
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Try Aloe Vera gel - available from health stores. Very soothing and gentle and most can tolerate it.
 
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