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21 different Food allergies! HELP!!!

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  • 21 different Food allergies! HELP!!!

    i have a mare with severe skin issues. Swollen welts -that bleed, hair loss, etc. Always scratchy. Everywhere... I think I also hear some breathing issues under work and she has a loss of stamina.

    We treat topically, give benadril, steroids occasionally, bath very often, etc.

    This mare had colic surgery three years ago at age five or six.
    Up until that time, she was almost completely clear of skin issues.

    After that, each year has gotten progressively worse.

    Up until this spring, we thought bug allergies. But we had her allergy tested and basically she is allergic to well...you name it, and if it is FOOD -she is most likely allergic to it.

    The list is: Orchard grass, ryegrass, johnson grass, bahia, ragweed, lamb's quarters, sheep sorrel, sage, oak, curvularia, seven different fungi, barley, cotton seed, molasses (yes molasses), cotton, stable fly (the only bug on the list but her allergies are low to this) and corn pollen. Ragweed tests at 2144 -off the charts.

    yes, -indoors we have fungus and outdoors -almost everything edible.

    Now, I owned her dam, knew her sire, owned her full brother and have her offspring -none have inherited this and she didn't develop these until after colic surgery. She was also a premie at birth. Again, this didn't start until AFTER colic surgery at age five or six.

    I am at wits end with her. The vet has encouraged me to think about allergy shots but with SO many allergies I just don't see what the point is... my vet is very into alternative therapies but the cost of these shots is enormous when you factor in 21 different allergies and then I am reading less than stellar results for some people with this treatment plan. I also went to the their website and just didn't get much useful info in the way of "real" science. I got given a huge glossy brochure from the vet on their allergy shots (spectrum labs) and basically, there was zip about what the process is and what is being given and their success rate. Remember that allergy shots take up to a year to work and we are talking daily injections for at least the initial period. As I have been trained as an immunologist - I am getting more and more skeptical of the shots and even the test itself, which is a blood test -not skin test.

    But then the vet said that before we start the tests, we should retest because what she is allergic to now, could be different in a few months from now -so if I didn't start immediately with the tests (last spring), I should re-test. Testing was $275 and now I am thinking how much for the retest and the shots? I am coming up with basically the process costing around two thousand dollars at least and then she could become allergic to a different set of allergens or the tests don't always work. Backing away slowly...

    So, I am trying to think of something to help her cope and trying to weigh the pros and cons of going the allergy shots route.

    But I am still stuck on what has caused this allergic reaction to foods.

    I found this article (I am immediately suspect due to "holistic" -which often means not scientifically proven):
    Now, when I read this -most of it seems BS to me but this paragraph caught my eye:
    "Horses that test positive to multiple foods may be dealing with acquired food sensitivities that are caused by the incomplete digestion of food before the food is absorbed into the bloodstream. Horses are often unable to completely digest their food because of the unhealthy bacteria in their gut, which interferes with the digestive process. If the horse also suffers from intestinal ulcers (or a breakdown of the intestinal lining), proteins may be absorbed into the bloodstream before they are properly digested. The horse’s body then interprets these larger protein molecules in the bloodstream as foreign invaders, which triggers an immune response locally or even systemically. Because of this immune response, the body is now “allergic” to any foods that contain these types of proteins. This condition is also called leaky gut syndrome, and the intestinal ulcers (as opposed to stomach ulcers) may be caused by the overuse of NSAID’s such as bute or banamine. These drugs decrease the protective mucous layer in the intestine."

    Could there be something to the fact that she had colic surgery -she is a draft, so this surgery was a big deal? Could she have leaked proteins into her system that caused allergic reactions? It doesn't seem likely to me but I just can't figure what the heck is going on with her to develop these allergies as she a mature horse?

    So... my plan right now might be to keep her on alfalfa
    drylot her and put her on probiotics. She doesn't have any ulcer symptoms and actually a pretty happy horse (just itchy, bumpy). She is not nervous, jumpy,angry. But dry lotting her and separating her from the other horses is going to make her very unhappy...

    Any thoughts would be appreciated...

    Do any of you have a severely allergic horse to lots of different foods?

    Do any of you have a horse that has gotten better from food allergies? What was the treatment?

    Sorry for jumping all over with this -but I guess in writing this, I am trying to get my thoughts out on papers and try to make sense of it. Because right now, I am kind of at a loss as to cause, treatment and even if I can trust the diagnosis.

    Anyone have words of wisdom?
    Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF

  • #2
    What was the test--i.e. was it blood or skin testing? What determined a "positive"?
    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


    • Original Poster

      Blood -which is why I don't completely trust the results. It does not list the immunologic test used to determine reactive allergens.

      Their criteria lists positive as being between 100-5000. The lowest on the list is 308 , the median number was around 400 and the average might be slightly higher due to the one off the chart reading of ragweed at 2144.
      Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF


      • #4
        Could you get a second opinion from another vet?
        ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

        Originally posted by LauraKY
        I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
        HORSING mobile training app


        • #5
          My mare is also allergic to over 20 different things per a blood test which isn't the most accurate. She is allergic to some bizzare things too. I did allergy shots with great results! She would rub her mane and tail bloody, so they really helped.

          BUT allergy shots do not help with food allergies, its purely eliminating them from the diet. She is allergic to corn and barley and flax seed which basically every commercial feed has at least one of them. So she just gets alfalfa pellets and alfalfa and grass hay.

          She is allergic to a few grasses as well, but thats not really included in the food allergy part of the list if your is arranged the same way then you will know what I mean. So, I think the allergy shots can be made for those allergies, but I think its more to the pollen of the grass and not the actually eating the grass, but I could be wrong.

          Moved her out to CO and magically everything but the food allergies became a nonissue as they were when she lived out there before. If I ever move her back to the hot humid south (FL), then I will probably get a skin allergy test done on her for more accurate feel of her allergies.

          O and taking her food allergies out of her diet made the biggest difference in her personality! She went from high strung hot mare to a more easy going but still hot mare. It was a nice change!
          I love cats, I love every single cat....
          So anyway I am a cat lover
          And I love to run.


          • #6
            Blood tests do NOT work for food allergies!

            Make the 2 hour drive to Athens and see a veterinary dermatologist...it'd be well worth investing that $$ before you spend a bunch in allergy shots.
            Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


            • #7
              I had a 3yo a mare who we allergy tested and results showed that she was allergic to whole lists of things in each category. My vet said she was the most allergic horse he had ever tested. I elimated the food allergens from her diet and I did do the allergy shot regime. It was a long year of shots, but it was very worth it. At 7yo she is a much happier horse.
              New Blessing Farm
              Standing the Oldenburg stallion Legaczy
              "The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground".


              • #8
                Yes -have run into this situation before - same situation - horse never had problems until colic surgery - now he's allergic to everything.

                Put her on a probiotic - get her gut working correctly. Might help to up her immune system as well.
                It's worth a try.

                Could there be something to the fact that she had colic surgery -she is a draft, so this surgery was a big deal? Could she have leaked proteins into her system that caused allergic reactions? It doesn't seem likely to me but I just can't figure what the heck is going on with her to develop these allergies as she a mature horse?
                The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
                H. Cate


                • #9
                  I used allergy shots on my horse for a number of years, but the allergens were airborne. I thought the only solution for food allergies was elimination. That being said I share your horse's allergy to ragweed (and it is getting to be that season again). Allergy shots for ragweed worked well for my horse and for me


                  • Original Poster

                    The test results state that these aren't food allergies (a tiny comment on the test results page which I had not noticed before) but the DVM -was treating these allergies as if they were food by setting up an elimination diet and speaking about them as if they were food allergies.

                    Looking the results, it is clear they are not food allergies and why she always gets better in the winter as well as more comfortable in a stall, which is what I did with her last summer.

                    At least that makes it a little easier to manage!

                    So, for now - I wilk dry lot her and keep her in a stalll and then get her to UGA to a specialist I think that is an excellent idea.
                    Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you everyone for your helpful thoughts and comments! I am glad I posted.
                      Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF


                      • #12
                        I take allergy shots myself and did them for my gelding for awhile. Definitely shots could really help her with ragweed and similar. The shots will gradually up the exposure so that eventually she could become non-allergic to that particular allergen. It's real science, not pseudo-science and it has changed my life! I've seen it work for many horses!

                        You might want to ask about anti-histamines, as she's allergic to so many items, including food. Even try them for a month and see how much she improves? Normally I would prefer the shots over anti-histamines, but then you seem to potentially have a unique case.

                        Good luck!!
                        Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


                        • #13
                          Yes, did the spectrum labs shots and have seen improvement. Started as a yearling, and this year as a 4yo had no hives at all! Maintenance is much less expensive after the first year. Other strategies: dry lot during peak growing/pollen season, limited grazing for late summer, out 24/7 in winter. Eliminated as much of the food as possible, which includes commercial grains. She gets alfalfa and maybe grass hay if I can find the right mix. No pyrethrum (sp?) fly sprays because marigolds are related to ragweed. I'm also careful to note brand of vaccinations and use what appears to be least reactive.


                          • #14
                            Take her off GMO alfalfa, corn and anything GMO. Natural pasture if possible, I don't believe that oats have been genetically altered so oats and grass.

                            PM me and I will give you links to more data.
                            A pussycat of a horse with a chewed off tail won the triple crown, The Cubs won the world series and Trump won the Presidency.
                            Don't tell me 'It can't be done.'


                            • #15
                              Hello. First post ever... your thread has brought me out of lurk-mode.

                              I have been wrestling with this problem with my 13 year old gelding for several years. It is maddening and has periodically brought me to tears for the discomfort he's expereinced. Very much like the OP's description and completely seasonal.

                              Get the skin test!!!

                              We did a blood test/allergy shots and now, a year later and about $500 later, we just did the skin test. The results were different.

                              I got connected with a dermotolgist that specializes in allergies. The blood tests, while effective for dogs and cats, is not very accurate for equines.

                              I keep my boy suited up in fly sheet and hood, even in the stall, from June until the weather cools off and his winter coat starts coming in--it helps keep the dust & pollen off. Also provide a barrier to ease the impact of the rubbing.

                              In the short term, you can do some additional things like topical steriods (are not absorbed internally to harm the system), anti-fungal/anti-biotic shampoos & topical and you can even have antihistimines made into powder to add to grain.

                              Good luck!!