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Bizarre Hives and Antihistamines for the Horse who Presents w/ Occasional Hives?

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  • Bizarre Hives and Antihistamines for the Horse who Presents w/ Occasional Hives?

    My horse will every so often present with these bizarre hives. Sometimes they're the size of a softball and raised half an inch or so (in which case I usually only find 3-6 of these at a time) while other times he'll present with more typical hives. These reactions seem to happen at random--he's gotten them in the summer, fall, and even in the dead of winter. It seems to happen no more than a few times a year.

    Today, my horse presented with two large "lumps" right where the girth would lie along his sternum. They were each about half the size of my fist and were quite hard. Then, I noticed that some of his other lymph nodes were swollen.?

    One of his vets had given me some Dexamethasone to have on hand but the vet who was in today urged not to administer it without him being looked at since the swellings were so strange...Several new horses have come into the barn in the past week or so and I wanted to be sure it was nothing else...

    Horse had no temp., no respiratory disturbances, etc. The vet gave him 10cc of Dexamethasone (which I already had) along with another injectable medication (that I can't remember, of course).

    Vet recommended TriHist although luckily, he was out of it on the truck (and I checked CoTH and read of the side-effects before going ahead with it).

    Does it seem like it'd be worthwhile to put a horse like this on an antihistamine (AniHist, HistAll)? The vet said it takes a few weeks for it to build up in their systems and that he typically doesn't keep a horse on it all the time. If I kept my horse on it, would it maybe help in preventing these skin reactions (hives)?

    And, have you ever had a horse present with such bizarre hives like these before? TIA!
    Originally posted by RugBug
    Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.

  • #2
    Ant bites?


    • #3
      Ticks! My horse can have reactions like that to tick bites which don't go down untill the tick is removed.
      ~\"Think today so you will be here to think tomorrow\" Burma Shave~


      • Original Poster

        LauraKY--I'm not even sure how ant bites would present?

        And the vet looked at the "lumps" and didn't say anything about ticks--although I suppose they could've been missed? And I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing, but I've never found any ticks on a horse before ?
        Originally posted by RugBug
        Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.


        • #5
          Well, for my horses, it depends on the horse. Sometimes they are huge tennis ball size lumps.


          • Original Poster


            So how did you find out that the lumps were caused by ant bites?
            Originally posted by RugBug
            Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.


            • #7
              Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
              Ant bites?
              Yes, check for ants. Callie was allergic to ants and cedar. First barn, put in isolation stall. Hives. I looked and found ants.

              Then at different barns if it rained, ants in beds in pastures would be angry. Hives if she rolled near them.

              And once a BO put cedar chips in with the pine shavings. Hives.

              So eliminate ants in pastures, and in stalls, and then start looking at other things. You check the stall. Ants will have beds right by the walls. And in the pastures, you check where horse has rolled. If there is an ant bed right there, eliminate it.

              The other day Cloudy stepped in an ant bed right by the fence while I was leaving. He's not allergic, and I spray his and Hattie's hooves and legs with tritec every day to prevent ant bites.

              But if you only have one or two large lumps, look for bees or wasps. Hattie got a big lump on her stomach the other day, where I obviously missed spraying and where something big stung her. Happened to one of BO's horses also last week. Watch out for stinging insects. I gave Hattie some bute, and put antiseptic on the bite, which had a big scab in the middle, and it's almost gone now. And I sprayed her with fly spray more thoroughly.


              • #8
                My horse breaks out in hives a few times a year. Usually the large hard lumps are bite reactions, and he has normal looking hives when he reacts to a plant in the hay or pasture or something funny in the shavings. He is extremely sensitive, so this is common for us. I usually administer benadryl if they don't go away or start to improve in a few days. He has never had them last more than a week, and when they are bite related it is very apparent.


                • Original Poster

                  I will check for ants where he commonly rolls in the pasture. And in regard to the lumps maybe being caused by stinging insects, there are no scabs in the middle or anything as far as we could see. Could they still possibly be stings because of this?
                  Originally posted by RugBug
                  Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.


                  • #10
                    My mare use to break out in hives from certain types of hay, especially alfalfa. Just a thought.
                    Derby Lyn Farms Website

                    Derby Lyn Farms on Facebook!


                    • #11
                      My horse looks absolutely crazy whenever mosquitos are active.... :/ One day I brought him in and he was just covered in bites of all sizes all over his body....

                      I have noticed that stinging insect bites tend to spread out rather than build up....sometimes there is a scab, sometimes theres not (particularly if no stinger was left behind)

                      Indiana is a bit too far north for fire ants, isnt it? Those are the only kind i've ever seen produce large swellings on a horse (or any other animal!) Do they seem painful or itchy to the horse?
                      Clancy 17hh chestnut Dutch WB, '99. Owned and loved since '04 and still goin'!


                      • #12
                        My mare was getting hive-like small bumps, nothing serious, but I finally figured it out it was ants, too. Always on one side, the preferred side she slept on. Killed the ants and bumps went away.

                        She then became Michelin Man (face, legs, everything) twice, which we attributed to pollen/eucalyptus trees -- cold water and benedryl took care of that.

                        At current barn, nothing new. I begin to think that hives are just something you manage through. A cold water hosing helps a lot if the welts are big..

                        Good luck


                        • #13
                          if it only happens once in a while i would probably not do anything. especially if it is a sensitive type - you never know if what you give might also cause a reaction (yes, i have such a beastie)


                          • #14
                            Mine is a chestnut (sensitive) and is also getting large hives this year. This is the first time for the large hives, usually they are small bumps. They go away within a week. I put him on an antihistamine but haven't seen a difference. Vet says they are hives. Just in case I have just pulled blood for a lymes(?) test. The other chestnut in the barn is the only other horse that has hives too! Weird.


                            • #15
                              Some reported side effects should not steer you away from actual drugs that, used for PROPER reasons in PROPER dosages on a temporary basis, have proven quite safe and help with a medical problem over quite a few years. ANYTHING you put onto a horse can cause a reaction, even food.

                              The Tri Hist helped mine with odd skin bumps, hives and creeping crud and it is an actual antihistamine. The Dex seemed to help and I observed absolutely no side effects. Nothing, nada, zip.

                              I think we are getting a bit overboard wanting to go "natural" or depend on anecdotal "evidence" when there are good and proven choices that used PROPERLY over a short time frame can help the horse quickly and at a reasonable cost.

                              Far as those lumps? Gravity will pull everything down around the lower chest and girth area from well farther up so it can be hard to tell where whatever bit them did the deed. And that fluid can present as a pretty solid lump because it is absorbed by the tissue-sort of like a sponge. Lancing is generally not an option because the fluid is distributed throughout that tissue, not in one spot like a water balloon.

                              Have had these on several horses over alot of years. We figured spider bites. It's not serious and will clear on it's own as the body reabsorbs it. But you may want a week of the antihistimines to prevent further reaction and the Dex seems to help alot of them with any rashes or localized irritation.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              • #16
                                I have one that presents the same way. No rhyme or reason, could be dead of winter, spring, etc. My feeling is that it is a weed in the hay. I have used benedryl, trihist, etc after the fact but quite frankly the only thing that takes them away within 12 hours is a packet of dex (10 mg). I do not feed anything as a preventative.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by ultimateshowmom View Post
                                  Mine is a chestnut (sensitive) and is also getting large hives this year. This is the first time for the large hives, usually they are small bumps. They go away within a week. I put him on an antihistamine but haven't seen a difference. Vet says they are hives. Just in case I have just pulled blood for a lymes(?) test. The other chestnut in the barn is the only other horse that has hives too! Weird.
                                  Mine is a chestnut, too.... hmmmmm.... o_O
                                  Clancy 17hh chestnut Dutch WB, '99. Owned and loved since '04 and still goin'!


                                  • Original Poster

                                    I didn't have a chance to walk around his pasture today to check for any ants but the large lumps were gone today. He maybe had a small hive or two on his neck but otherwise looked fine--his coat was maybe still a little "wavy" looking, but other than that.. And, this was after he'd been turned out for several hours w/out his fly sheet (BO must've forgotten this morning).

                                    I don't think I'll be putting him on any AniHist or anything just because at least thus far (*knock on wood*), this has just been a freak thing that happens a few times a year. Thanks for all the replies though--I will be keeping this all in mind.

                                    Oh, and my guy is a chestnut (Thoroughbred) as well...

                                    Originally posted by RugBug
                                    Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.


                                    • #19
                                      Great pic of your TB, I love the tail swooshes in, a really nice picture, the lines harmonize.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks, Chall!

                                        I just wanted to give an update and say that the mystery lumps were back today (although they were not as large as the other day). Their location and the fact that there is just these two "lumps" on him is weird to me.

                                        See picture: http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/a...sterylumps.png

                                        (The shadows make the contour of his ribcage/sternum look like more "lumps"!).

                                        I had a lesson scheduled and figured I'd see where exactly the girth would sit. The "lumps" ended up being a little in front of the girth, and because they're not at all sensitive, I figured I try and hop on. By the time I untacked him the "lumps" were almost completely gone again.

                                        I guess I'll see how he looks the next couple of days and then I'll plan to talk to our other vet that will be out to the barn next week for vaccines and such to get his opinion on antihistamines, etc.
                                        Originally posted by RugBug
                                        Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.