Flies – Horseflies, deerflies and gnats bother horses with painful bites and the transmission of dangerous diseases. These flies commonly found in stables and barns live off the blood of animals and humans. Deer and horseflies deliver painful bites that mark a horse’s skin with a sore or scab. Gnats are very small and tend to gather near pools of water. Gnats most commonly bite sensitive areas such as inside of the ears, inner thighs, and the underside of the horse. Fly bites often go unnoticed, but should be treated as soon as a scab or wound is spotted by the caretaker. Fly bites can be treated by cleaning the scab and applying anti-bacterial cream to help prevent infection. Unfortunately, encephalomyelitis and swamp fever are common diseases carried by flies. Knowing the symptoms of these diseases will help caretakers catch and treat the disease before it harms the horse.
There are many different ways to limit the number of flies around the barn or stable:
- Electric light and sticky traps
- Avoid standing water
- Fly repellant spray
- Ear nets
- Petroleum Jelly on sensitive areas
Colic – Colic is a common abdominal issues in horses. Colic can occur as a result of impact to the colon, lack of fresh water/dehydration, or eating fibrous foods. Treatment for colic depends on the cause of the colic, however medication or surgery are common in the correction of colic.
To reduce the risk of colic:
- Feed your horse a consistent die
- Keep a regular feeding schedule
- Provide fresh water daily with an automatic horse waterer for the stall or pasture.
- Keep horse food in a dry, clean area
- Provide parasite control as needed
Dehydration – Excessive fluid loss, or dehydration, in horses is caused by a number of factors including: diarrhea, strenuous exercise, fever, severe heat, or renal failure.
Symptoms of dehydration:
- Dullness in the eyes
- Dry skin and mouth
- Thick and sticky saliva
- High level of protein in the blood
If you feel that your horse is dehydrated, talk to your veterinarian about the horse’s water and electrolyte needs. To keep your horse hydrated, make fresh water available to your horse at all times. An automatic horse watering system from Nelson Manufacturing is a great way to ensure your horse always has access to clean, fresh water.
Allergies – As odd as it may seem, horses are prone to allergies, in a way very similar to humans. Exposure to dust, pollen, mold and food and insect allergens can cause tearing eyes, coughing, fever or hives on the horse’s skin. If the horse is acting unusual, it may be a result of skin or respiratory allergies.
Skin allergies will often disappear with little to no treatment. Itch cream will relieve the horse’s irritation and prevent the horse from rubbing the affected area.
Repertory allergies are similar to asthma in humans and most commonly a result of exposure to dust, pollen, and mold. Fresh air and a clean stable will allow the horse to recover from a spell of respiratory allergies caused by environmental factors. Hay easily molds and should be replaced frequently to avoid polluting the air in the stable.
Heat Stress – During hot summer months, stress or stroke caused by excessive heat can harm or even kill horses. When overworked, horses bodies can struggle to regulate temperature on their own and lose important electrolytes through excessive sweating. An overheated horse may not want to eat or exercise, have uncommon behavior, or lose movement in muscles and tendons.
Keep your horse cool by:
- Rinsing with cool water
- Keeping a fan in the stable or barn
- Applying rubbing alcohol on skin to increase evaporation of sweat
- Providing fresh water daily with an automatic horse waterer for the stall or pasture
- Avoiding over exhaustion or overworking the horse during extremely warm weather