Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Itching, Rubbing or Scratching, Generally

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
  • If the behavior seems extreme, or the horse seems to be in distress.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If you have tried treating symptomatically and there is still a problem.
  • You also notice skin lesions that seem associated with the problem.

Generalized itching and scratching may result from many causes. It can result from an allergic reaction to insects such as flies, lice, or mites. It can result from an allergy to new bedding, feed, or topicals (shampoos and grooming products), or a variety of internal disease processes or infections. Horses that are very itchy may traumatize their skin to the point of bleeding.

With this in mind, this behavior may be attributable to a simple cause that you can resolve on your own, or a more serious condition that requires veterinary assistance. If you treat symptomatically, then you just need to understand that there are many potential causes, and it may take a veterinary examination to determine the condition causing it.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their behavior. When is the horse scratching? How intense is this behavior? What degree of damage has it caused to the skin or haircoat? Examine the area(s) scratched or rubbed very closely. Is there hair loss? Inflammation? Insects? Lumps or bumps? Examine the horse all over for other areas, and take careful note of the distribution of the affected areas.

Even if you believe this behavior is the result of a simple cause that you can resolve on your own, it is best to share your findings and concerns with your vet. This is particularly true if your horse is showing any other signs of illness or disease.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet evaluates general health and the horse’s environment in order to try to determine the reason for itchiness. Allergy is the most common cause so a careful history is important to search for potential allergens.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending