How to treat and prevent sweet itch in horses
Sweet itch is also called summer pasture dermatitis (or pastern dermatitis) and causes severe itching and irritation in horses. This is usually caused by an allergic reaction that occurs to the saliva of certain insects, mainly Culicoides midges.
Sweet itch can be very frustrating for owners and horses. Horses can scratch and rub their skin, causing itching and hair loss. Secondary infections can also occur. Sweet itch can lead to behavioral and weight problems, as well as loss of appetite in severe cases.
Sweet itch is a condition that cannot be treated. However, there are ways you can manage it and make your horse feel more comfortable. You can try to prevent your horse being bitten by bugs. Fly sheets, masks and sprays are all possible to prevent your horse from being bitten by insects.
Altering the environment can be a good option. You might consider moving your horse to an area that has fewer midges if you live in an area where there are a lot. You can create a more welcoming environment for your horse if this is impossible. You can make sure your horse has a shaded area and keep insects away by using fans.
Sweet itch can also be relieved by a variety of medical treatments. Your vet can prescribe antihistamines and corticosteroids or immunosuppressive medications. These medications can be used to reduce itching and inflammation that is associated with sweet itch.
Your veterinarian may recommend that your horse be tested for allergy in severe cases. This will help you identify the allergen that is causing your horse’s reaction. You can then take steps to prevent your horse from reacting again.
Although sweet itch can be frustrating, it is possible to manage it. You can make your horse feel more comfortable by taking preventative measures and using medical treatments.