Bugs are the worst. Humans hate everything about them and do everything we can to keep mosquitos and flies from biting us. Like people, horses can have an adverse reaction to bug bites, and it feels a lot harder to keep these pests away from horses in the pastures and barns. So how can you avoid exposure, what can you do to treat insect bites, and why is it important?
How to Avoid Bug Bite Exposure
The best defense is a good offense. Preventing bug bites is the best way to stop related problems in horses. However, it’s not easy to keep horses and bugs apart. Some people use blankets or fly masks to provide a barrier between the horse and the insects. That’s not always feasible, though. Ocala is an excellent location for horses, but the climate does make it perfect for mosquitos, flies, and no-see-ums to thrive.
Like you take your dog or cat to the vet for yearly vaccines, we do the same for our horses. (except the vet comes to the horse!) Some of these vaccines include preventatives against vector-borne diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis. These are carried by mosquitoes. While these vaccines are necessary and important, there are some things you can do around the barn to help lower exposure to insects like mosquitoes. It is imperative that water sources are cleaned regularly and that you are mindful of any areas with standing water, as they could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects. Always confer with your veterinarian to be on an appropriate vaccination schedule.
Insect Bite Hypersensitivity
Insect bite hypersensitivity, or IBH, is an allergic reaction to culicoides midges. More specifically, horses react to their salivary gland proteins. The bugs are commonly known as no-see-ums, and the name says it all regarding how difficult they are to control. Researchers have taken a closer look at IBH. It’s currently treated with corticosteroids, but this advanced research may help to develop new treatments.
Treating Insect Bites on Horses
For run-of-the-mill insect bites, horses can have the same level of treatment we might use on ourselves. A topical steroid or anti-biotic can be applied to the skin if prescribed by a veterinarian. Horses can also use antihistamines, but they don’t always handle the problem on their own. And if your horse is experiencing IBH, consult your veterinarian right away.
At horseOlogy, we use a product called BioTab7. It’s a disinfectant, biocide, deodorizer, and cleaner. While it doesn’t specifically eliminate the bug problem, it can prevent many of the issues caused by bugs in our area and bacteria, fungus, and mildew.
If you want to know more about Biotab7, contact Jena at horseOlogy.
See the horses at horseOlogy.