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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

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 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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For the last four weeks, one of my horses, an 8-year-old QH, has had recurring hives. According to the previous owner, who had him for 2 - 3 years, he did not have hives during his time with her. Interestingly, a friend of mine, with whom I ride frequently, also has a horse who is experiencing hives in this same time frame (for the first time in the years she has had her). None of the other horses in our group of riding buddies is having hives. Her horse actually began having hives about two weeks before mine did. We live 30 minutes apart, feed different feeds, buy our hay at different places, and know of only one thing under our control that we have in common with these horses - we both purchased the same kind of shavings (different than we had been purchasing) just before the hives began. However, neither of these horses spend an appreciable amount of time in their stalls, where the shavings are. They are pine shavings - same type as our previous brand - just from a different supplier, whiter, larger flaked. We doubt it is the shavings that are contributing to this problem. I have cleaned the horses' stalls every day and begun using my previous brand of shavings again, and I believe there to be only a minimal amount of the new brand left in there. Thinking it might be something in the last batch of coastal hay I purchased, I bought six bales of coastal hay from a different supplier and fed it for several days without any noticeable improvement. Our weather has been weird - unseasonably hot, even for central Texas, preceded by a brief very cold snap in November (down to 19 degrees). Can hives be caused by the horses being too hot with their winter coats and temperatures getting up into the 80's? We have noticed that in the mornings, after the cooler nights, our horses' hives are better (sometimes almost gone), but as the day heats up they return with a vengeance! Both horses have had long-acting steroid injections (and mine has had two short-acting ones); both have been on Tri Hist Granules (but not for long - they didn't make any difference and mine would not take them no matter how I disguised them). I switched my horse's feed from Omolene 100 to Safe and Sound about two weeks ago - no difference in the hives. I temporarily took him off of his hoof supplement and Rice Bran, and my husband cut down and removed the four Persimmon trees in the paddock (the horses had been gnawing on the bark a little bit) - no difference in the hives. As far as airborne allergies, Cedar season has begun here...could it be an allergy to Cedar? What, if anything, can you suggest? Must we simply let this run it's course? Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

Where are you from? Wimberley, Texas

How did you locate this forum? google

Re: hives

Hi Jean,

Yes, I understand about the heat in Texas -- I, too, live in Texas and with the horses' winter coats, the heat has been very troublesome. And, you are correct to suspect the heat as a problem when combined with winter coats that store heat close to the surface of the skin.

Often times, hives are a result of the body's immune system kicking into overdrive. As a horse ages, the immune system can be less responsive and has to work harder. So, a horse that has been perfectly healthy for years can suddenly experience problems as he ages.

I would strongly recommend boosting your horse's B vitamin intake. A B-Complex preparation called B Plex would be worthwhile. Here is the link so you can read more about it:

The hives are not likely due to what you are feeding, as long as your hay is clean and free of mold.

Keep me posted on how he is doing.

All the best,

Dr. Getty