Top Animal Health
Concerns For
Veterinary Professionals

Top Animal Health
Concerns For Pet Owners

Support For Your
For Veterinarians



Pruritis is a common complaint associated with equine dermatoses. Itching can result in alopecia, excoriations, scaling, and crusting. Pruritis caused by allergies, including food allergy/intolerance, atopy and contact allergy, as well as by Culicoides insects. Pruritis can be one of the most frustrating conditions to treat, since they usually progressively become worse each year. Commonly used corticosteroids can be risky, especially in obese horses at risk for laminitis. Many natural compounds offer superior results over the long term by decreasing inflammation and calming an over-reactive immune system.




Recommendations for avoiding dermatitis from insects include: minimizing a horse's exposure to insects and using long-lasting fly repellent; keeping horses stalled (if possible) or for them to have access to shaded shelter during the peak hours of insect activity; aiming a fan at the stalled horse, as many biting insects cannot fly


effectively in the air currents and avoiding insect havens like standing water, manure piles or cattle.


An effective treatment for dermatitis will combat the cause as well as offer the horse relief from the itch. Steroids are often successfully used to combat the irritation, but unless they are accompanied by treatment for the underlying cause of the itching, a relapse weeks or months later is likely. Antihistamines can cause drowsiness and should be used with caution, but they remain safer than steroids and may give reasonable relief. There are currently no antihistamines specifically licensed for use in the equine, so many of those used by vets are human drugs.



Additionally, soothing emollient shampoos, solutions and sprays can be used to effectively alleviate the itching. Cold water hosing and ice packs applied to the irritated areas can also lead to an improvement. Witch hazel is also recognized as having a non-specific cooling effect on itchy skin. Shampoos containing colloidal oatmeal and oils such as borage, tea tree, evening primrose and aloe vera can also offer soothing effects. Sulphur is one of the oldest anti-pruritic products available and has positive benefits in relieving the itch as well as treating some types of dermatitis. 


In the event of a biting and sucking lice, experts suggest anthelmintic ivermectin, which can kill both types of lice. There are also lice treatment shampoos specifically formulated for horses.



Integrative Medicine


In addition to any pharmaceuticals, there are also many effective alternative therapies providing treatment and relief to equines with dermatitis.


In the case of pruritus (itchiness), a dietary supplementation is often recommended with flax-based omega fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce allergic reactions to insect bites. Homeopathic formulations with ingredients such as arsenicum alb, rhus tox, sulphur, graphites and thuja have been specially formulated for equine dermatitis.


Additionally, you may want to try herbal coat enhancers containing herbs such as nutmeg, paprika, celery seed and fenugreek. These combinations will help new hair growth. Bioflavonoids (plant-based, antioxidant substances), have also been scientifically shown to help maintain animal tissue health. Antioxidants from green tea and grapes can also have particularly beneficial effects in preventively or therapeutically helping to repair damaged tissue. 


Equine Dermatitis/Pruritis
(Reference: Veterinarians’ Desk Reference)

(Live Link)


Species affected: Horses


Background: One of the most frequent problems seen, since the skin is a reflection of the health of the internal organs and immune system. Skin lesions are often secondary to other chronic diseases, with bowel disorders and allergies being leading causes.


Symptoms: Range from mild and seasonal to severe and constant, usually with  pruritis or swelling as a primary complaint. Lesions may range from simple reddening of the skin to severe, chronic, open sores with thickening of the skin and much hair loss or odor (occasionally), generally worsening as the animal ages. Seasonal problems of short duration often progress to longer time periods, or even to a year-round problem.


Diagnostics: The diagnosis of the other concurrent chronic diseases requires a thorough workup.


Special Notes: One of the most frustrating conditions to treat, as there are often many causes. There is often a correlation with a compromised immune system.

Principles for Supplementation: Treatment is aimed at restoring health to any concurrent condition as well as treating the inflammation in the skin.







ABC’s Plus1

2 oz bid

Supplies vitamins, minerals, and support for healthy GIT micro-organisms.

Noni fruit6,15

powder: 3-4 tsp bid
fruit leather: 2-4 two-inch sq pieces

Source antioxidants, fatty acids, amino acids.

Chia Booster (chia seeds)19

1 scoop bid

Stabilizes membranes, source Omega 3 fatty acids.

Flax/Hemp Oil

3-6 tbsp sid

Anti-inflammatory; stabilizes membranes.

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang (Gentiana Combination)14

4 tsp bid

Clears Damp Heat, inflammation and itching of the skin, temperamental.



To help you quickly find the right Integrative Medicine formulas and manufacturers to help treat your dogs, cats and horses, please refer to the Veterinarians’ Desk Reference
(Click Here)



Send to
a Friend
Support Our
Thorne Research
ModecareVet Thorne Research

National Animal Supplement Council

Natural Partners

Natural Partners