Tis the season…..no its not the Holiday Season — Allergy Season!
Winter is almost over! A time of sheer delight for many but for a lot of others, Spring, green grass, flowers, warmer temperatures and harvesting of crops brings with it its own set of issues for a lot of horses all over the world.
We are just on the cusp of that dreaded time of year for so many horses who suffer from allergies — be they to flies or midges with skin reactivity in sweet-itch, hives or airborne particles which are triggers for respiratory allergens like different pollens which increase in Spring & Summer.
One thing is for sure — flare ups happen — they can be difficult to navigate and those that have had issues in the past need to be ahead of the game and be on top of things before your horse starts displaying significant outward symptoms like coughing, nasal discharge or just feeling really ‘lack-luster’.
For some horses — Winter and being stabled is their challenge with their owners noting limited increase outside of their normal ‘symptoms’ in Spring & Summer, but for most horses who have a respiratory issue — its always best to be Proactive rather than reactive to any change which could exacerbate and increase their symptoms.
Watching your horse go through a flare up can be distressing and shouldn’t be underestimated — none of us want our horses to struggle with what should be the most natural thing in the world — to breathe. And with todays higher levels of understanding of respiratory health, and product availability such as Flexineb — they shouldn’t ever have to! We now know how best to control Equine Asthma, through managing their environment closely and medication management. Of course, with the aim always being to have your horse on the lowest possible dose of medication to ensure its comfort, safety & longevity.
It’s important to note, respiratory disease in horses is very variable in its severity and how it impacts a horse’s life. It is fair to say that no two horses are the same in how they react to external and environmental factors. Some horses only receive medication at times of an increase in symptoms, others require daily medication to keep symptoms under control. Some horses can maintain quite well on very limited intervention, using natural products such as Silvaplex or 0.9% Saline and only require a step up to anti-inflammatory steroidal medication at peak times throughout the year. As the old saying goes, they are all so different! Your veterinarian is always best to advise you on your horse specifically.
What does help however, is being ahead of the curve –& being pro-active in your horse’s respiratory management.
How to get ahead of the curve?
1. If you have stopped nebulizing over the winter months and your horse is prone to allergic responses — you should start nebulizing again now to ensure you limit any significant mucous build up by perhaps nebulizing with 0.9% Saline for example.
2. Speak to your veterinarian and ensure you have adequate supply of any medications to hand for your horses continued long term care. If your horse does not regularly receive medication- speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of introducing some natural products to help your horse keep well in the lead up to their most challenging time of year.
3. Maintain high standards ay home! Fully clean out and disinfect your stable periodically, paying particular attention to cobwebs and of course, using dust extracted or low dust bedding is vital to any allergy prone horse.
4. Last years hay crop can be getting a little dustier and mustier now at the end of the season and before the next crop comes into the hay barn in the summer. Make sure to continue steaming or soaking your hay now more than ever to ensure no further irritation of the respiratory tract.
5. Turnout time, be sure to allow your horse out to graze, stretch their legs, get out of the stable environment and be a horse!