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  • Itttttcccchhhhhhyyyy!!!

    So my retired guy has pretty severe bug allergies AND itches like crazy when he sweats.

    He spits out flax based and rice bran based coat supplements, and cool calories didn’t do anything for his skin,

    He lives in either a permethrin coated fly sheet or a sweet itch sheet most of the year. He’s on hydroxazine this year which is working better than Benadryl did, but since it’s getting hot he’s starting to tear the paddock fence up pretty bad itching on it (only reason he isn’t tearing himself up is because of the sheets - they are getting trashed).

    Vet is leery of using dex because he’s a pony and we don’t want him foundering,

    Anybody have any other ideas? Aveeno rinses help for a day or so. Should I do something like put jojoba in a spray bottle and use that? Coconut oil? I have some of the lanolin mane and tail stuff, might that help?

    Kinda out of ideas and at wits end here....

  • #2
    I have one horse with environmental allergies, allergies to midge fly bites and a grain & soy intolerance.

    Diet absolutely makes a huge difference for starters.

    This summer has been brutal for horses with any degree of allergies. I've had my horse's allergies under control (no eruptions) for a handful of summers. This summer he has had a mild outbreak of Scratches and a small spot on his tummy has erupted from midge fly bites

    This time of year the chemistry is changing in plants and leaves. This horse finds some of that change attractive, resulting in hives every few days. Thankfully Benedryl is working for that part of his issues.

    What has been working so far:

    1. No grain, no soy diet. All he gets is 2measuring. Ups daily of straight Timothy pellets to mix his supplements in.
    2. A condensed (soy-free) vit/min supplement.
    3. An additional 3,000 IU of pure Vitamin E -- NO added selenium.
    4. I shower him off as-needed and shampoo him 1-2 times monthly with "MalAcetic". It has a very calming effect on the horses and the dogs.

    5. I don't use fly spray as I feel like it only exacerbates the issue and no fly sheets BUT I am fortunate my horses are home and can get into the barn whenever they want. I keep hay out, to encourage them to stay in the barn and I have 36" barrel fans for each horse to stand in front of; those big fans do a great job of keeping anything that flies and bites off them. They spend several hours daily in the barn.

    6. I have salt out for them but I add just enough to their feedpans to encourge more drinking -- I feel like a little more water helps flush some of the yuk out of their systems. About a teaspoon is all they need. I don't believe in auto waterers as I want to physically see how much they drink --- they each drink 10-15 gallons daily this time of year.

    The bottom line for my horse is a grain & soy free diet, soy-free vit/min supplement, and additional 3,000 IU of Vitamin E.

    FWIW, he's been on Omega-3 Horseshine for 15 years. While it does help some it doesn't help nearly enough. I keep him on it mainly for hoof and coat health.

    I hope this gives you some ideas to try


    • #3
      What works for mine when they suffer from "itchy tail" is a bath with Head and Shoulders or similar product. I've not used it on a whole horse body, but can't see how it would hurt. Might ask your vet first, or do a "patch test" to see if there's a reaction. I believe "stops the itch" was a selling campaign at one point. Anyway, works for itchy tail for my boys. Need to leave it on for 5 min though --not apply and hose off.


      • #4
        I have had good luck with Kinetic Equine Equishield IR Shampoo, and the spray that goes with it. I wash the mare's tail every 2-3 days with this stuff, and only use the spray if she is extra itchy, but she's nothing like your guy. It's more $$$ than some of the other suggestions here.

        All her tail lossage this year has been from letting her go more than 3 days between shampoos, or occasionally stepping on her tail when the water first hits some sensitive spot between her hind legs, and she crouches down. (I have learned to hang onto her tail when I start... Luckily she does not kick.)
        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


        • #5
          I use Sore No More on myself for all kinds of bug bites including mosquitos. That stuff is great. Eleminates the itching within minutes. It's mostly arnica so is not harmful.
          "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


          • #6
            Dilute some original Listerine and sponge it on him daily
            Give Benedryl dissolved in water and put it in mouth using turkey baster. Several pills several times a day
            For tail rubbing worm with Anthelcide EQ to eliminate pin worms


            • #7
              Originally posted by cloudyandcallie View Post
              Dilute some original Listerine and sponge it on him daily
              Cloudy& do you rinse the listerine?


              • #8
                I've had good luck with Equiderma shampoo. Suds him up and let it sit for up to an hour and rinse (I can't wait that long and end up letting it sit for 20 minutes). His coat will be super soft and shiny. Keeps my guy from rubbing out his mane and tail.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dqtastic View Post

                  Cloudy& do you rinse the listerine?
                  No leave it on and it will repel bugs and flies
                  first few times I diluted it with water but then went with full strength


                  • #10
                    I've had the best luck with Tri-Hist and Equishield IBH salve. My mare also wears her fly sheet at night, off during the day since she gets too hot.


                    • #11
                      I hear you, OP! My horse broke out in large lumps about 2 weeks ago. SOOOOOO itchy. I made a shampoo from Johnson's baby shampoo with 1% Penicillin-Streptomycin and the antifungal Amphotericin-B and used that liberally for the last week. I also arranged to have his run-in shed fan on all of the time because the midges can't fly against that air stream. And liberal Fly Spray with cypermethrin. I usually use fly spray but... His lumps came down to almost nothing withing a week. He's still itchy (I scratch him liberally, he appreciated that).
                      Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


                      • Original Poster

                        Tnx for the suggestions! I ordered some of the Kinetic stuff and should get it next week. EquiDermal is what I’ve been using, but it isn’t working right now. I think we have black flies this year. Also put some equispot at the bits that are exposed.

                        This horse has the DRIEST skin I have ever seen. I out some of the lanolin stuff in a spray bottle and got it down into his mane good, hopefully that will help some.

                        Also ordered a couple of those horse scratching things to put on a tree. He has one in his stall and uses it a lot - like THROWS his neck up and down it. Hopefully that will at least keep him away from the fence. I’m afraid he’s going to trash himself along w the fence!
                        I’ll look up the MalAcetic stuff, too.


                        • #13
                          Have you had him tested for thyroid level, IR and/or Cushings? You said retired, so may be of an age where those issues pop up. And a pony, so even more likely.

                          My oldie (24 yr old Fjord, but not retired) went thru a summer a few years ago where he was sweating constantly and itching insistently. Vet wrote it off to an usually hot year. But when he still sweated in December when temps were in the 20s and less, she finally conceded that something was not right.

                          We tested for IR and thyroid. Sure enough, boarder-line IR and his thyroid was low. He was not obese, but certainly not thin and did have fat pads in the telltale places - shoulder, tail head and a bit cresty in the neck; although again vet first wrote that off to his breed. Tested hay and made sure it was OK for IR horses (which it was, we grow our own). Started ultra slow feed, 1-inch hole hay nets. He was getting no grain, just ration balancer and flax meal. Also started him on Heiro for IR and Thyro-L to see if we could bring his weight down a little. Took about a year for everything to stabilize, but he's been sweating appropriately for at least the last 2 years now. He also no longer itches or rubs (except for the occasional obvious pesky bug bite).

                          Humans with low thyroid often have dry, itchy skin. Wouldn't be surprised if horses suffer similarly.

                          I also have a younger, not IR Fjord who has sweet itchy. The first year I had him, incessant itching during bug season to the point of rubbing himself raw in many spots. He also turned out to be low thyroid. He is on the same diet and on a higher dose of Thyro-L because he lives to eat,. His itching/rubbing has also pretty much disappeared. I do have to keep a fly sheet w/ belly band and neck cover, as well as leg wraps, on him. He is so dramatically improved that you wouldn't know to look at him that he has sweet itch.

                          Luckily, benadryl does work for him if/when things get bad with the bugs. I will NOT use dex unless it is a last choice life or death matter. (My vet concurs on this and says dex is often more for the people who want to see quick results rather than have patience with finding other solutions to a longer term issue.)

                          This pony also had very brittle tail hair and a section of mane that was brittle and slow to grow when he first came to me. Tail is long and beautiful today and the mane is considerably better although definitely not as thick as the upper part of it. I think it was also part of adry skin issue for him. If he seems to be at all itchy, I rub in aloe vera gel or witch hazel as needed. Also, love Uckele's natural bug salve. Their citronella based bug spray has worked very well, even this year which has been really bad for flies.

                          I think the two biggest factors to stopping both these guys itching (after first insuring a high quality, appropriate forage diet) was primarily the Thyro-L and secondarily the flax. Good luck. It is a frustrating and aggravating puzzle.


                          • Original Poster

                            This guy is only 15. He had severe peritonitis secondary to an abdominal mass about a year and a half ago and never fully recovered. It’s sweet itch. Got really bad one year when he was turned out near a pond.


                            • #15
                              My older guy gets super itchy in the summer. It’s slightly strange but diluted vinegar baths help his skin cook down ( plus she smells like a French fry )


                              • Original Poster

                                About ready to try anything! Got a spray on, but LOOOORRRRRDDDDY the PERFUME in it!


                                • #17
                                  I have had some luck feeding spirulina powder. I'm sure it would be a combo of things with the extent of your guy's issues, but it could help. BO started feeding it to a mare I had last summer when she broke out in hives/welts all over last summer and it calmed them down within 24 hours. Having extra after I sold her, I started feeding it to my mare who was rubbing out her mane and tail, in addition to washing with an anti-itch shampoo, rinsing with ACV, and then using a homemade concoction with tea tree oil, jojoba oil, and some other things.

                                  This year I started her on the spirulina in June, and she has been much less itchy than last year. It isn't too expensive through Downside is it turns everything dark green.


                                  • #18
                                    When something like 10 COTH posters in a row agreed that my itchy horse would like to have his bug bites covered in neem oil, I figured that kind of consensus on this forum really meant something. They were not wrong. He stopped itching, his bites closed, and he's grown back all the hair he rubbed off. It costs $15 a bottle, is aversive to bugs (allegedly including midges,) and is intensely moisturizing for dry skin. Downside, he'll smell like he rolled in something dead.
                                    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden