Allergies on the Rise in Horses
It seems that new allergies are popping up every day. Human allergies are quite common and we are learning more and more about allergies in animals as well.
The Netflix documentary Rotten highlights the precipitous rise in food allergy cases in the US. According to the CDC, food allergy prevalence among children has increased 50% from 1997 to 2011.
According to a report by the BBC, the rate of food allergies worldwide has increased from around 3% of the population in 1960 to 7% in 2018. *
Seasonal allergies are also on the rise. According to Michael Foggs, MD, President of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ASAAI) the prevalence of allergies is surging with as many as 30% of adults and up to 40% of children having at least one allergy.
Allergies in dogs and horses
According to American Veterinary Medical Association, environmental allergies are on an upward trend in dogs, with a 30.7% increase over the last ten years.
While there is no published data on rising allergies in horses, anecdotal evidence based on the number of owners who contact us about their horses’ allergies and how to manage, leads me to believe that just like humans and dogs, horses are experiencing more challenges to their immune systems.
Key factors in the increase of allergies
According to the ACAAI:
• Climate change: pollen levels are increasing every year. Warmer temperatures and milder winters can make the spring allergy season longer. When humans are exposed to early seasonal pollen, our immune system is primed to react to the allergens, which increases sneezing and other symptoms.
• Hygiene Hypothesis: this theory suggests that our emphasis on extremely clean environments fails to provide us with exposure to the germs required to educate the immune system.
• Antioxidants: There is another hypothesis that questions whether low levels of dietary antioxidants may contribute to the increased rise in allergies.
Food allergies in horses and dogs appear to be rising. I say “appear” because even just a decade ago, allergy testing in horses was not very common, although it is now. Have the food allergies been there all along and we just didn’t recognize them?
Food allergies in dogs have been explored longer than in horses. Even though each of these two species eats a very different diet, there are some common allergens: wheat, soy, and corn.
Types of allergies in horses
Allergic reactions occur when the horse’s immune system overreacts to substances, or allergens. Common allergens are pollen, mold, dust, mites, insects, grooming product ingredients, horse feed ingredients, and various forages. Other potential allergens are drugs and medications, stall bedding materials, pesticides and herbicides.
Common allergic reactions in horses
• The most common allergic reactions in horses are hives and itching.
• Respiratory issues such as equine asthma are a response to allergens.
• Specific research in humans and animals is showing a link between allergies and leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Remember a large proportion of the immune system resides in the GI tract.
Strategies for helping horses with allergies
• Corticosteroids can be the fastest way to reduce the inflammatory response. But these medications are not ideal for long-term use.
• Supportive antioxidants include Resveratrol, Spirulina, and SOD.
• Supportive nutraceuticals to regulate inflammation and histamine include Quercetin Phytosome and Boswellia.
• Immune modulation foods include bovine colostrum and Reishi mushrooms.
• GI tract support includes fulvic and humic acids, soil-based organisms, medicinal mushrooms providing short-chain fatty acids, MOS, and active probiotic strains providing high CFUs.
Biostar’s allergy support supplements for horses
The Optimum Family: The entire Optimum line of wellness formulas with multi-nutrients and minerals also provides Spirulina and other antioxidants.
Sym-Biota EQ: provides the fulvic and humic acids plus the soil based organisms and the medicinal mushroom chaga.
Colostrum-38 EQ: advanced immune support with 38% IgG.
Aller-X EQ Powder: provides patented Resveratrol, patented SOD, patented Boswellia serrata extract, patented Quercetin Phytosome, Reishi mushroom extract, fulvic and humic acids.
Aller-X EQ Paste: provides the same ingredients as Aller-X powder but with added Shilajit and Schisandra extract for added mitochondria and immune support.