HELP! Bad hives...

Hello! I’m new to the forum and am in need of some serious help. My 11 year old dressage horse has been having some serious trouble with hives. They are only on his neck, shoulders and girth area. Hives are soft to the touch and absolutely will NOT go away. I do not want to give him any more steroid shots because of it’s dangers AND the fact that it only has been keeping the hives off of him for a week at a time.

The horse does not appear to be in distress. There is no sign of him itching, rubbing or scratching at himself. The hives have also not been causing him to swell up at all. They are just very visible and I am getting very worried why they wont go away. Just because he doesn’t appear to be uncomfortable, I’m worried that he is anyway.

I’ve come to the conclusion that these may be an allergic reaction to bug bites. The bugs are pretty bad at night in Phoenix where we live, so as a solution I’ve bought him a fly sheet and have essentially been leaving him alone other than an organic fly spray. Has anyone else been through this before with their horse? It’s been about a month and a half now. When will they finally go away? And am I taking the right precautions?

Any help or feedback would be VERY appreciated. Thank you!!

If you do not already do so, add lavender oil to your spray. Very soothing to bites.

A good white vinegar rinse usually helps hives quite a bit. And if it’s an allergy, adding spirulina to your horses’s feed is a god-send. I take spirulina myself for seasonal rashes.

Witch hazel will also do it, and cut the itching if he is scratching.

Don’t panic. My old TB basically lived with hives all summer. There was little I could do to make them go away, but like your horse he never seemed bothered. The only time to worry would be if he gets them around his airways bad enough to swell up and cause trouble breathing.

You can do an allergy panel if you want to know the cause.

If the horse is on pasture have you walked it to see if there is anything new this year? Maybe get an extension agent to look who is familiar with all of the possible culprits.

Mine gets them around this time every year. She’s never seemed uncomfortable or itchy, but I can only imagine she is a bit. Dex is the only thing I’ve found gets rid of them. I do a 10-day course per my vet, but the hives are gone 1 dose in.

Personally, I’m leery of Dex b/c it can cause laminitis/founder. I also have a friend whose horse had such bad allergies that be would rub himself raw & bloody. Even on Dex, he would rub himself raw. Once she put him on spirulina, he stopped rubbing (and she had taken him off the Dex, as well).
MSM and flax can also help, but not as much as the spirulina.

Could it be a heat rash? You could try hosing those areas off on hot days or after work and see if it helps at all.

My veterinarian recommended baking soda washes when my donkey had hives last autumn. She also prescribed powdered dex (a tiny amount) and bute (donkey had a fever, too).

My mare had two episodes - hives the size of quarters almost all over her and then her legs swelled up enough to start oozing. Once in the Spring and once in the Fall.
Dex helped her on the first episode, Dex and antibiotic on the second. Very odd, nobody could tell me why, and it was not evident in other horses. Very few bugs and she is ten years old.

Have you had him allergy tested? They can take a blood sample and see if he is reacting to something - it’s not terribly expensive. I think it cost me about $200.00 and they test for a couple hundred different things.

Get an allergy test. I had one with persistent hives that were caused by a corn allergy.

Is it time to worm him?

A month and a half is a long time. Personally, I would get a vet involved. I’m thinking it is more an allergy if you have keep the flysheet on him.

He has had about 3 Dex shots each decreasing in dosage and it was effective for about a week until the bumps started coming back. I am hesitant to keep giving him shots because of the risks that come along with them. He’s an FEI dressage horse and I don’t want to mess with any more steroids. He is not rubbing, scratching at himself or bloody anywhere and the hives are soft to the touch. I’ll look into spirulina, does anyone know if it’s FEI legal?

If it continues I’ll get an allergy test. We ran a blood panel, which I’m not sure if it’s the same thing, but nothing showed up and he appears to be very healthy. I had suspicious of a food allergy, so I quit feeding him red bran (which doesn’t have a ton of nutritional value anyway) and it seems to be helping. I add a splash of apple cider vinegar to his lunch to help boost immune system.

A month and a half is a long time. Personally, I would get a vet involved. I’m thinking it is more an allergy if you have keep the flysheet on him.[/QUOTE]
I have 2 vets involved actually, one my regular DVM and one a homeopathic guy who does bodywork and acupuncture (also a regular vet). Both have told me to wait it out a little bit and are hesitant to pursue shots or allergy testing. But good news today! Bumps are gone on left side of body! Bumps on neck are small and close together opposed to large and widespread. Minimal bumps on shoulder and none on girth area :slight_smile: I think we are on our way to recovery. Thanks for your input, everyone!

Well obviously you would want to use benadryl or atarax, but they both are banned by FEI. I think at this point getting the hives under control is more important though - he can’t show in this condition anyway can he?

Probably a coincidence but my OTTB who had hives, gave Dex to, got another weird virus, and then finally got better. . . Put him on omega horseshine and never had a problem again.

Just a note re: the Dex. Mine was given a course of oral Dex, not shots. 10 ccs for 5 days, 5 ccs for 4 days, and then 5 ccs every other day for 3 days. Took care of the hives, and they have not come back.

I know there’s always some risk, but you may look into giving it to your horse in his grain instead of as a shot.