Urticaria in Horses
Urticaria is a common skin condition that affects people and animals. It is also known as ‘hives’.
This condition is especially dramatic in horses whose usually smooth-coated bodies reveal the well-defined, raised areas in the upper layer of the skin. These wheals or welts may appear as flat-top nodules, donut shaped rings or occasionally as rope-like lesions that may coalesce into larger geometric shapes or forms. Often limited to a small area, severe cases may involve the face and limbs. The wheals are due to edema fluid developing in the skin and may feel soft when depressed however some horses may develop firm nodules.
There are many causes of urticaria including chemical, physical or hormonal factors. It can be a one-time episode or it can be a waxing and waning problem. History can be particularly valuable especially if some type of drug is associated with the development and recurrence of urticaria. A change in environmental condition may point to allergens in feedstuffs, infectious agents, some parasites, pollens, dusts, fungal and mold spores to name a few. Reactions to light, temperature or stress has been known to trigger urticaria in horses and only affecting an individual horse stabled among many.
Horses may or may not be itchy but if itchiness does occur, self-inflicted trauma may result in contusions and scab formation and sometimes secondary infection.
To treat urticaria the underlying cause should be determined, however many cases are idiopathic and only occur one time. Antihistamines may be used and have minimal side effects. Allergy testing and immunotherapy (antigen injections) can also be effective in cases where environmental allergies are a factor. It is generally recommended that glucocorticoids (steroids) be used limitedly and for short-term treatment.
Recurrent or chronic cases of urticaria are best treated with avoidance of causes if known, antihistamines or antigen injections. Glucocorticoids should optimally be avoided as a long-term treatment and only used long-term as a last resort. Therapeutic shampoos can be used to reduce skin irritation if there is oozing or secondary skin damage. Allermyl (Virbac) or HyLyt (DVM) are excellent choices due to their mild effects and moisturizing properties on the skin.
There is no one identifiable cause of urticaria unless an allergen has been established, therefore prevention is not possible. Fortunately, most horses resolve rather quickly without ever discovering the underlying cause.
Posh Pets Living a Dog's Life? Hardly.
There are nearly endless amenities and products now available to pets. It wasn’t that long ago that dogs were given a bone to fetch or chew and kitty might have found a piece of yarn or a mouse to amuse himself. Nowadays, rarely do we just throw a worn-out tennis ball, it has been replaced by the JPI Rip & Fetch ($42.84) which launches the ball from a handheld device and also keeps your hands from contact with a ball that has been “returned” numerous times.
My cat Karl would be surprised to know that the rubber band he plays with is utterly passé compared to the natural birch scratching post from Style Spray ($176, shipping not included from Germany). Likewise, his cat tree that he sleeps on daily would feel like a bed of nails if he were to snuggle in the Leatherette Bed Bowl with Pillow Interior ($588, www.design-spray.de).
Despite the grinding recession that lingers, pet owners continue to lavish their pets in ways like never before. And why wouldn’t they? Surveys report that many pet owners consider pets “part of the family” and receive attention rivaling owners’ children.
The phrase “living like a dog” may have two meanings now. Karl the Cat seems to enjoy a pile of dirty laundry for a nap, but perhaps dreams would be a bit sweeter on a 22k gold thread mattress ($1000 – 3000, Magniflex USA). Originally made for people ($24,000 – 30,000), a custom order was requested for the owner’s pet and voila, a new pet product was born.
At dog-spoiling-made-easy.com custom dog houses are available to your specifications. Choice of lighting, tile, shutters, floor covering heating/air conditioning or whatever you deem appropriate for these luxury custom dog residences. Naturally, the exterior can be made to match the architectural features of the owner’s house. After all, what would the neighbors think if a Gothic Revival-inspired dog house was placed in the yard of your Cape Cod abode? With prices starting at $5,500 you can assure complementary styles to suit your taste.
Now would be a good time to mention the Animal Dermatology Clinic t-shirt for dogs and cats, it comes in four colors and at only $15 each it’s starting to sound like a steal.