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Allergy Testing

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  • Allergy Testing

    My horse most likely has a food allergy. I suspect it is soy, but I am not completely sure. I have heard some people say that they have gotten a blood test done on their horses to test for allergies but I have heard mixed opinions on whether or not it is actually helpful as the results usially show many possible allergens. Do you think it is worth it? If so, how do I go about getting my horse tested?

    A related allergy question... My horse got significantly better for 2-3 weeks when I removed a possible allergen from his diet. This week, he had a very noticible flare up, but less severe. Do you think a) the allergen I removed was not the problem after all. B.) Someone in the barn gave him something when I was not around (such as a treat or handful of feed) or c.) He could still be getting the old stuff out of his system.

    Thanks for your help and advice.

  • #2
    I did the allergy testing at my vet’s suggestion because my horse was having massive reactions, both skin and respiratory, to things in his environment. I did the simple blood test and was amazed what my horse was allergic to. Some of the things that really stood out where cotton, rice bran and Orchard grass which where removed from his diet and environment. (No more senior horse feed, orchard grass hay and cotton saddles pads or wraps). While I do think that there can be some false positives the test really did help make him more comfortable.

    The think that you have to realize about allergies is that it is a threshold thing. If you horse is allergic to five things in his environment in there immune system can fight off four of the five things but expose it to that 5th thing and the immune system goes into over drive and you have an allergic reaction. So it is possible that your horse is responding to something else in his/her environment or some one gave him something that he shouldn't have had.
    Below you will find links to my horses allergy album on face book and the lab that ran his allergy test.


    ~\"Think today so you will be here to think tomorrow\" Burma Shave~


    • #3
      Bearx2 is right and there easily could be another trigger in the environment causing the flare up.

      If you wish to see if WD'ing the possible allergen was indeed beneficial then intro it again and watch for symptoms. Connect the dots from there. You may find more ingredients or even environmental down the road. It takes a little time and some PI work.

      My sons horse was having severe resp issues when he took him to school a couple years back. An emergency run home in the middle of winter (out of the south and back into the north) solved what drugs did not control. We will likely never know what the cause was.


      • #4
        Can you say with 110% certainty nobody gave him a treat or handful of food or any other food?

        A couple treats with soy will give my horse some very odd behavior which is totally reminiscent of past naughty, spooky, aggressive, behavior. Even a piece of bread I can see the difference.

        I do not board. So I know with absolute certainty my horse gets zero soy. Of course, there IS a soy bean field across the street. I hope they plant CORN this next year. Or we move.

        Thanks Bearx2 for posting the allergy info. Fascinating. I didn't see alfalfa listed.

        I would love to have my mare tested. Me, too!


        • #5
          The blood test can give quite a few false positives - Montana came back with 23 positives on his test, including most grass pollens (except Fescue, thank goodness!), corn, oats, molasses, a handful of insects, and some tree pollens. I doubt that he has a significant allergy issue with *all* of those allergens, but it was extremely helpful to know, for instance, that he is NOT allergic to alfalfa, soy, "barn dust"(?), or pine shavings, among other things that he might commonly encounter in his life. We started initially by removing all allergens that we possibly could (not much we could do about the pollens) for as long as possible. His symptoms - hives, extreme spookiness, and a developing case of heaves - disappeared within 6 months. That was seven years ago, and in that time I have figured out that a small amount of any single allergen doesn't seem to bother him much; for him, I think it was the multi-allergen exposure issue. I don't worry, for instance, about a small amount of molasses in a treat, etc. He does sometimes have flare-ups of his heaves symptoms during high pollen times, and I treat him with antihistamines and the judicious use of corticosteroids as needed.

          There is a lot of trial and error involved in managing an allergy-prone horse. It can be very frustrating, but once you figure out his triggers it just becomes second nature. Good luck with figuring out your guy's case.

          ETA: I don't remember the serum allergy testing being terribly expensive when we did it. Montana's total bill from the UT vet school was around $600, and that included an exam, chest x-ray, BAL with culture and cytology, CBC, and the allergy test.


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by rmh_rider View Post
            Can you say with 110% certainty nobody gave him a treat or handful of food or any other food?
            Thats the problem... I cannot be certian. I love my barn but there are over 60 horses here so who knows how many people are around him during the day! Everyone means well, but he is such a nice horse, people like to pay attention to him. I did put signs on his stall though but as I said, I don't know if people really pay attention to the signs.

            I think I might look into the allergy testing. If it can tell me anything helpful at all, then it will be worth it. Did you send in the blood samples yourself or did you have your vet send them off?


            • #7
              My vet came out and pulled the blood so it could be sent to the lab that day.
              ~\"Think today so you will be here to think tomorrow\" Burma Shave~


              • Original Poster

                If the horse has a digestive intolerance rather than a true allergy, would it show up at all on the test?

                Also, what is the cost usually?


                • #9
                  Maybe you can post your vet bill and say do not feed this horse anything. He gets really sick - see? But that may not deter people.

                  Maybe you can have a little basket of carrots and if they must, then give him a carrot. But then again in a boarding barn, they may not go to just him. My horses had some bad stall behavior from being in a boarded barn. I wish I had had them on camera the entire time to keep watch. But we just bought our own property and it solved everything.

                  I truly hate boarding. I got tired of my food being fed, tack being used and stolen, etc. Finally we have our own property. I do understand about people having to board, and also the trainers are right there, and all the amenities. Maybe a very small barn boarding situation would be better?

                  Great post Montana. Well all of this thread is really interesting to me. :-)

                  Seems like an allergy test is worth it's weight in it's knowledge. At least you will KNOW what is what.


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by rmh_rider View Post
                    I wish I had had them on camera the entire time to keep watch.
                    Haha yes I thought of that too. Not practical, but ideal!


                    • #11
                      Its funny you posted this because just I just tested my gelding. I was surprised to learn that his main allergy is to bermuda hay and cedar...poor guy lived next to a row of cedars and we feed him costal. Switched his paddock and his hay to timothy and so far I've seen some improvement! I definitely think it was worth the money!


                      • #12
                        I'm not sure if the allergy test for food allergies are accurate. My vet said they aren't reliable for food. I was testing my mare because of coughing to see if it was pollen or something else causing her summer coughing.

                        Food wise she turned out to have a minor allergy to Orchard, Brome, and Rice. The highest she tested positive is to Deer Flies (which she gets welts from) and minor positive to molds. Nothing that had a really big number other than the deer flies that says it causes my problem.

                        Her hay that she is being fed is Orchard with some brome and she's on Triple Crown Senior (lots of rice bran there).