Winter Allergy in Horses - Respiratory Problem No.1

What is the cause of an allergy in winter?

Winter allergy in horses is mostly caused by dust and mold.
Horses are usually kept in barns during the winter season and exercised in indoor facilities.

Ventillation is often unsatisfying, as humans usually find a well aired stable fairly cold and think it would be better to keep it warm or even heated.

Moldy Bedding

Dusty, moldy forage, dusty bedding, badly managed and heated barns, where humidity can build up and increase in ammonium gases and microorganisms affect a horse's respiratory system. It is basically an indoor allergy.

Photo University of Edinburgh

What are the signs of dust and mold allergy symptoms?

Symptoms of a winter allergy are usually seen on mucous membranes and the respiratory system: Tearing eyes, nasal discharge, dry cough, raised lymph nodes on the underside of the jaw, sides of the throat or on the horse's shoulder. Some horses simply don't feel well and cannot perform well anymore.

AllergyThe illness can become chronic and a visible sign of this illness, which is similar to human asthma, is the "heave line" in the area between flank and lower third of the chest on both sides.
Photo University of Edinburgh

Allergy Treatment Guide

Preventing and controlling this ailment is relatively easy:

  • eliminate dust and mold in choosing low-dust bedding and quality forage
  • keep air flow in barn or stable to avoid too high humidity
  • do not overheat a barn, just as it is comfortable for you... a horse feels best at 45 - 55* F
  • let horses cool down and dry them as good as possible after exercise and before putting them back into the stable

What is the best allergy medication?

The diagnosis is a challenge for every vet, especially in cases where symptoms are unspecific (cough, discharge, raised lymph nodes). Treatments with allopathic medicines will usually relief the symptoms. To cure the illness the elimination of key factors and a more holistic allergy treatment should be undertaken. Some vets are specializing in holistic veterinary medicine, an alternative to conventional medicine and treatments.

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