How to Handle Hives in Your Horse


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If you find your horse covered in bumps one day, chances are that you may be dealing with a case of hives. While hives are relatively common in horses, you need to know how to appropriately treat them. These tips can help you to handle hives in your horse.

Assess Severity

Before you do anything, step back and assess the severity of your horse’s hives. Hives indicate an allergic reaction of some sort, and severe cases can be dangerous. Look to see whether the hives are concentrated in one area, or whether they’re spread all over your horse’s body. Check to see if your horse is bothered by the hives – is he actively scratching them? You will also want to see if your horse is breathing normally, and if he has any nasal or eye discharge. Get an idea of the size of the hives – hives can range from pencil-sized lumps to much larger, fist-sized swellings. Then, call your vet and make sure that your horse doesn’t need an immediate vet visit.

Treat for a Reaction

Your vet will likely have you administer your horse a treatment for allergies, such as by giving him a dose of Banamine. This treatment can help to relieve some of your horse’s itching and can minimize the hives.

Use a Cold Compress

If the hives are particularly itchy or large, you can use a cold compress to help bring down some of the swelling. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and hold it against your horse’s hives for short periods of time. Repeat this process throughout the day.

If you have access to a hose with cold water, you can also run cold water over your horse’s sides to ease his itching.

Determine the Source

As you treat your horse, try to think about whether anything in his world has changed which may have prompted the hives. Your horse may be reacting to a new substance in his diet, a new plant growing in his pasture, or a new supplement that you’ve introduced.

Hives can be prompted by other factors, too. Is your horse wearing a new horse rug? Have you recently washed his rug or saddle pads using a new detergent? Have you applied a new fly spray or other grooming product? Has your horse recently been vaccinated?

Determining the source of hives can be a real challenge, but if you’re able to figure out what made your horse break out into hives, you can prevent it from happening again in the future.

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