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Equine hives

Flat bumps on a horse's body may mean it has hives. There are many causes of equine hives. Food, medication, mosquitoes, even time of year can trigger them.

Radio interview source: Dr. Domenico Santoro, DVM, Dermatology, University of Illinois

 
If you see flat welts on your horse's body, chances are it has hives. Lesions can occur anywhere, but are most common on the neck, trunk, and legs. Sometimes they're itchy, sometimes they're not. 
 
Domenico Santoro is a board-certified veterinary dermatologist at the University of Illinois. He says there are many reasons why a horse could break out in hives. 
 
"They can go from allergies, or a change in temperature from cold to warm. It can be localized, like an ice cube on the skin can trigger hives," he says. "Or even auto-immune diseases can trigger hives."
 
Medications such as antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or topical agents can also be the culprit. Just like us, horses can have a seasonal reaction to pollen or molds. 
 
Most of the time, hives will disappear on their own. But Santoro recommends calling your veterinarian, especially if the hives are still visible after 24-hours. In rare cases, the reaction can be life-threatening if the neck swells to where the horse has trouble breathing.
 
The challenge is determining the cause of the hives, so it's important to have up-to-date medical records on your horse.
 
"To find out if the horse got medications right before the development of hives, or if the hives appear seasonally?," says Santoro. "Is it the first time, has it happened before? All those kinds of questions can help the clinician to find out what is the real problem for the horse."
 
If you find what's causing hives, remove it from the horse's environment. If no cause has been found and hives reoccur, the horse may need a skin biopsy or allergy testing. 

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