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Help with Hives

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  • Help with Hives

    My horse has been dealing with hives now for about 4-5 weeks. They aren't just little hives they are huge, hot & very itchy. He tends to get them more around the tops of his legs (front & hind) and where his legs meet his body. He also gets a lot along his shoulders/neck and on either side of his tail on his butt. His body doesn't typically get too many.

    Besides this particular episode he has only had hives one other time. It was last February, right after body clipping, and they were managed with Dexamethasone (for just a few days) and having him him on Tri-hist (an antihistamine) for a few weeks. We are at a completely different facility now.

    As far as current treatments this is what we have done: we have given him Dex (5 cc's) and they go away completely for about 48 hours, by 72 hours after receiving Dex (when it's out of his system) they are back with a vengeance. We have tried using Tri-hist which was successful the last time & have had no luck this time. Last Friday he had the hives again pretty bad so I gave him a really good bath (using Ivory soap which I have used many times before with no problems) and tried only using 3 cc's of Dex. I thought we finally had success since the hives went away & stayed away (except for a few little ones) until today. In the morning he had a few more but by afternoon he was covered in big, hot, itchy hives. I really don't want to give him Dex on a regular basis (and haven't) but some days he is SO miserable from the itchiness that he just can't even stand still in his stall unless he gets some Dex.

    We have tried using different shavings, different hay, he is getting the same grain that he's been on for 3 months, I have tried using blankets vs no blankets, turnout in different places, including just the indoor (I thought at one point they were possibly due to rolling in a certain type of grass during turnout in a newly fenced pasture), I have not been using any type of spray (fly, show sheen, etc). He has not yet been body clipped for the year because I was worried if it was something that was irritating his skin having less hair would make it worse. One very strange thing I noticed today was that he had a fresh urine stain on his flank this morning & by this afternoon that entire area was raised like it was one big hive but it also wasn't the only area by any means that had hives.

    I am completely confused & frustrated. I can't figure out what to do next (neither can my trainer or vet). We are consulting another vet to see if they have any suggestions besides allergy testing. I know a little about allergy testing but don't know much about how much the information from testing can help. I also haven't asked how much the testing costs. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I also would love to hear from anyone who has had success from knowing the results of allergy testing for hives.


  • #2
    I went through this last winter. It took forever to go away, and we never figured out what was causing it. He still breaks out occasionally, but usually it's temporary. Someone on here, Decorum I think, recommended nettle leaves, which is suppose to boost the immune system. They may have helped a some; it's worth a try. I ordered them from one of the online places, herbscom.com or iherb. I'm sure you can find them several places. Good luck; I know how frustrating it is.


    • #3
      My mare had a real stubborn case of hives for a few months. I put her on flax seed and a short time later they disapeared. That was the only thing I had changed so it could have made the difference??


      • Original Poster

        update: this morning I went out to the barn and somehow without meds the hives were almost completely gone again; however by this evening they were starting to come back...it makes NO sense to me


        • #5
          We have a vet who did the allergy testing on her own horse that was in bad shape, his results were he was allergic to cats the worse and human dander second.
          Many hives and allergy problems can be caused by so many vaccines as they break down the immune system along with worming to often with daily wormers and monthly wormings. Before shots a good practice is to put the horses on pro-biotics, we use fastrack and a great supplement such as Hemp helps build the immune system. Also bathing the horse is Murphy oil soap may help, use it like a shampoo on the body, not in the water, wash good once and rinse, wash a second time lightly soaping and leave on, do daily for awhile to help mosten the skin


          • #6
            The allergy testing was about $300ish. The results came back as allergic to 30+ things, including those we have no control over like certain types of mold or pollen. I'm now about halfway through the desensitizing process. I'm trying SmartBreathe supp. and Progressive feed. Can't tell yet what's working - it could just be the hard frost! Good luck!


            • #7
              Yes, nettle leaf powder worked wonders for my horse. He was the same way, dex would knock them down but they would come right back. Took him off the drugs and put him on nettle leaf and in 24 hours he was much better and in 2 days they were gone and stayed gone. You feed about 1/4 c twice a day for a few days then 1/4 c once a day and then taper down to whatever maintains them. It's dirt cheap too. I got cut and sifted from my local health food store while I waited for the powder to arrive from herbalcom, I fed 1 c twice a day of the cut and sifted.

              Ann Szolas


              • Original Poster

                So I have no idea if it's related or not, but yesterday I went out to the barn & my horse's left hock was huge & hot. No fever, no cuts, he didn't get turnout that day so the only other thing I could think of was him getting cast. Today the heat is mostly gone but the swelling is still there, definitely a little lame but it could be because it's so swollen. I also noticed a little swelling on the outside of his right front up towards his knee. There are some hives but not terrible....I'm so frustrated!

                I am looking into the nettle but in the past haven't had much luck with herbal remedies for things. Thanks for the suggestions!


                • #9
                  My pony had a weird allergy/hives thing going on for almost all of last summer and when he started getting hives the only way to get rid of them was giving him benadryll and sponging the hives with vinegar,it seemed to take all the itch away..

                  Is all the hay you have been trying from the same area?
                  We started trying different kinds of hay with my pony and then as soon as we got hay from another state (no matter what kind) the random hives seemed to go away


                  • #10
                    Sounds like you're having the same problem I am currently.

                    My horse has had hives for 18 days now.

                    They almost clear and then the next day they are worse again. When I bath her they almost go away and then a few hours later they come back.

                    She's had them before but they haven't ever lasted more then 3 days.

                    She was body clipped 3 days before she got them, brand new blanket & new bedding the day she got them. I've been away for a week so I didn't have much time to figure out what it may have been that caused them. Tonight I changed her blanket to an old one I had on her so we will see what they look like in the morning.

                    New blanket is a Rambo which are now made in China. It wasn't washed before I put it on her so I'm thinking that maybe something they spray on it to keep it 'fresh' for shipping may be the cause.

                    Has anyone else had problems putting a brand new blanket on without washing it first?

                    I haven't until now.


                    • #11
                      One of our mares is battling hives as well. Has been since August. We haven't been able to narrow it down to what she might be allergic to. But to keep her comfortable we have been using a Tea Tree based shampoo and then spraying her with Banixx? It helps keeps them away for a day or two but it has to be something internal because treating it externally just isn't cutting it.
                      She was on Dex early on and we have even given her SMZ's here recently that have helped but I believe we truly need to get her allergy tested so that we can try and eliminate what may be making her break out.

                      Good luck with your horse! I hope he feels better soon! Hives are a PITB!


                      • #12
                        Just a thought...check your bedding. Damp shavings can cause hives in some horses, depending on what type wood the shavings are made of. It could be a coincidence that you body-clipped at the same time (or maybe now horsey can get the shavings closer to his/her skin).