My horses are on pasture with mix grasses for about 8 h/d and have recently shown signs of allergies, itchiness on forehead, cheek, mane, tail and chest. Will supplements and oils help? Thank you. Jonathon
Without knowing a few more facts, it’s hard to give you a definitive answer. For example, what part of the country do you live in? How long have your horses been on pasture this year? What else are you feeding them? What exactly are “signs of allergies, itchiness?” Is there also hair loss, redness or scabs and scurf? Depending on the number and severity of signs, you may want to schedule a visit with your veterinarian to diagnose the problem and get to an appropriate solution faster.
If their itchiness (pruritus) is related to insects, then yes, supplements and oils may help. The sixth edition of Nutrient Requirements of Horses, published in 2007, says:
“Supplementation of horses with recurrent seasonal pruritus (sweet itch) with large amounts of flaxseed (454g flaxseed/450kg BW) was associated with a significant decrease in the allergic skin response to Culicoides extract, suggesting a possible benefit of flaxseed in the management of horses with this skin condition.”This resource has a whole section on the proven body-wide benefits of the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids that are found in flax seed, fish oil, and a few other sources. There is less conclusive evidence to support the use of garlic, vinegar, diatomaceous earth and other ingredients to deter insects from your horse, but many horse owners swear by these products.
[Ed. note: For more information about horse allergies, visit the SmartPak Health & Nutrition Library article on Allergies & Skin Health]