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10 stappen om zomereczeem bij paarden te verminderen

10 steps to reducing sweet itch in horses

Equine sweet itch, an allergic reaction in horses to the saliva of Culicoides biting midges, is a complex problem. How strong the reaction is, and whether the horse will actually rub itself for relief depends on a multitude of factors. Sweet itch isn’t easy to get rid of, as there is no one treatment that can cure it. With a timely approach and a combination of measures, however, the condition can be brought under control. The following steps outline what to do.

Step 1: Start on time!

The first Culicoides midge eggs hatch when temperatures rise above 10°C, so with sweet itch it’s important to act sooner rather than later. If a horse is already rubbing itself and is clearly itchy, it’s almost impossible to stop the onset of sweet itch.

Step 2: Keep your horse at a healthy weight

Take a critical look at your horse’s weight, for example by checking its body condition score (BCS) for horses. Whether your horse is overweight or underweight, both influence sweet itch. If your horse needs to either put on or lose weight, make sure to start adjusting their feed and workload in good time. Keep in mind that it can take months for your horse to reach a target weight.

Step 3: Improve immunity with a detox

Ensure that your horse’s immune system is functioning optimally, as this will improve its ability to withstand the attacks of biting insects. It is advisable to give your horse a detox treatment twice a year (before and after the sweet itchseason). Detox treatments take at least a week. Choose a detox treatment that stimulates liver and kidney function, and preferably also bile function.

Step 4: Put an eczema rug on your horse early (> 10°C)

An eczema rug can easily be put on underneath a rain blanket. The eczema rug prevents midges from biting and causing the allergic reaction. Make sure that the top of the tail and the top of the mane are also covered. Once a horse has been bitten, the itchiness will have already started, and the problem will be more difficult to treat. While an eczema rug is a critical measure, please note that a rug alone is by no means adequate protection against sweet itch!

Step 5: Make your horse unattractive to midges

If your horse’s blood tastes unpleasant, it will be bitten less. That’s why it’s advisable to start with Finecto+ Horse as soon as temperatures rise above 10 °C, as the formula will repel midges. This will also help protect exposed parts of your horse that are not covered by the eczema rug. If you start early enough, you’ll only need to use the preventative dosage (1-2 scoops a day). If you’re late, you’ll have to start with the curative (healing) dosage (6 scoops a day). A fly spray can also help make your horse extra unattractive to flies and midges, for example on days where fly and midge forecast models are forecasting high volumes. These sprays must be used daily.

Step 6: Cut down on sugars in feed

Sugars are present not only in feed concentrates, but also in roughage and grass. Check your roughage for sugar content and don’t let your horse out into the pasture too early in the morning after a cold night. Use a track grazing system in the pasture so that your horse can graze on the grass in a dosed manner. Only use feed concentrates if it’s actually necessary for the work your horse does. Alternatively, you can use vitamin pellets or a feed balancer, or choose a feed concentrate that is low in sugars.

Step 7: Ensure a healthy metabolism

Stress, improper diet, deworming treatments and vaccinations will all affect the metabolism and gut bacteria of your horse. Too much diversity of vegetation in the pasture can also disturb gut bacteria and impair the absorption of nutrients. Optimize your horse’s gut bacteria with a supplement that supports digestion.

Step 8: Get your horse inside the stable at dusk

Midges are most active at dusk. It is therefore advisable to make sure to not get your horse out of the stable too early in the morning or back in too late in the evening.

Step 9: Make sure your horse is active every day

Activity is important in combatting sweet itch. Free movement in the pasture alone is not enough to ensure good blood circulation and waste elimination. If you don’t want to ride, tow or lunge every day, make sure in any case to walk your horse or do some groundwork for at least 20 minutes a day. 

Step 10: Spot-treat itchy areas

If itchy areas still occur, use a mild ointment for the wounds and scabs, preferably one made from natural ingredients (e.g. with zinc). Use a softening lotion on the top of the tail and on the mane.

Following these steps, you and your steed are sure to have an itch-free summer!

Finecto+ Horse
Finecto+ Horse
  • More than 95% less problems with mites, midges and lice
  • 100% natural and contains no poison.
  • The strength of herbs
  • Ordered before 15.00 u, sent the same day!
  • 600 g
Finecto+ Horse 3KG
Finecto+ Horse 3KG
  • More than 95% less problems with ectoparasites
  • 100% natural and contains no poison.
  • The strength of herbs
  • Ordered before 15.00 u, sent the same day!
  • 3000 g
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