The problem of sweet itch may be that two horses in the same field can respond differently to the same midges pestering them, it is at the same time your cue that possibly there’s a way to empower the affected horse, so it becomes unaffected like the other horse. Not by depressing its immune system (because current medical thinking deems that your horse’s immune system is making an error) but by raising its natural defenses. In our ignorance, Man makes more mistakes than Nature does, that is, if Nature makes any to start with. So, by natural help I mean boosting those natural defenses that innately your horse could have available.
By looking at how culicoides midges attack horses and ponies, and by following the adverse reactions (allergic response) that are known to follow, you can spot the handles you have on this problem. Slide the below diagram to see where you have the opportunity to change your horse’s response to midge bites.
As you know, sweet itch (Recurrent Seasonal Pruritus and Queensland Itch are other names for it) is a very common dermatological ailment of horses that is characterised by itchy lesions along the ventral midline, dorsal midline, mane and tail of horses. If your horse suffers from sweet itch, then we hope that the information in this page helps to see your horse happier throughout the midges’ season.
I told you that I would be happy to do you a testimonial and take picture for you of my pony but that I would not be able to send you before pictures, as her sweet itch was so severe I refused to take any pictures of her in the last few years as it is so distressing to see her go through this as we explained when we met you. Since we sent the before photo on 2nd April (shown here), we started using the powder. After 10 days use, our horse has an improved coat quality – we have seen reduced itching/scratching, a shinier and softer coat and an absence of dry skin. Kindest regards, Sarah Jarman (Nottingham)
Sweet itch is thought to be caused by a type-1 hypersensitivity reaction to the bite of insects from the Culicoides genus. The header picture shows you a midge that has sucked itself full of blood, this is where for many but not for all horses the problem starts. [Rosencrantz WS. Systemic/topical therapy. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice 1995;11(1):127–146. ; Kleider N, Lees MJ. Culicoides hypersensitivity in the horse: 15 cases in southwestern British Columbia. Can Vet J 1984;25: 26–32. ] Affected horses often develop severe skin eruptions due to self-mutilation in an attempt to alleviate the itchiness. Climate change means that sweet itch is becoming more widespread and that this distressing condition is no longer restricted to a short season.
On winning the aloeride, we gave it too our old pony Star who has sweet itch and this year he has no midge bites on his neck and tail. The dentist Justin Pugh came on Monday and had a good look at him and took the name of the product and the vet Evan Lloyd a partner from St James vet practice Swansea had a good look and found no bites and called into the house for all the information for the website. Cheers, Diana Stokes (Glamorgan)
Beyond relocating your horse (which often isn’t possible) or creating a barrier (which often doesn’t help adequately), you can see your handles on this problem: help normalise the immune response, help tissue from heating up, help the itchiness, help damaged tissue restore itself back to normal and then there is safer by sebum (this is a term we coined), prevention by optimising skin lipids that in part act as a deterrent. With prescribed medication not being a failsafe answer, or indeed a safe answer to certain horses, many owners of horses that are allergic to midges’ bites look out for plant nutrients that can make a difference. The answer can be as simple as 1 sachet of palatable powder sprinkled over daily feed… Murphy moved from the adversely responsive to category into the not affected by category! It is hugely satisfying to see this happen, an owner relieved and a horse happy again.
Here’s what his owners Michael and Loraine wrote to us:
Please accept this letter as a testimony and thank you for the introduction to your product for our horse or should I say the wife’s horse. Murphy has had sweet itch for over eight years ever since we bought him, even though the vet said he did not suffer from this when we had him vetted Murphy would rub and scratch that much he would nearly fall over and many a time we have found bits of his flesh on fence posts. We have used almost everything on the market itch lotions, herbal treatments, both digested and applied, even had the vets injections as part of a trial (reported he was on the real product not the placebo) even giving him oranges just did not help him. Combine this the gallons of fly sprays of many different types. He now scores an 8-9 in condition this year which has been his best year ever. This year he has only had Aloeride every morning with his feed which has not been changed. Within two weeks we noticed a dramatic change in his condition. We have not used any fly sprays or any other sweet itch products, after five months on your product. We have noticed other changes for the better and keep finding improvements each month. It’s a real must try, at worst it is only going to cost the same as any other combination and the added befits of excellent coat condition, hoofs and also lack of fluid swellings are all things which would add cost. I have and continue to recommend it to people with horses, so much so that we all take the Extra Strong for humans and I have lost the dry feet I have suffered for so long, my skin heels quicker and in general I feel much healthier. Very best regards, Michael and Elaine Jones (Kibworth)
There is good science behind why particular nutrient molecules can make a huge difference to your horse’ response to midge bites:
- In properly meaningful quantity 2.0 x 106 and 1.1 x 106 Da beta-linked aloe vera polysaccharides are known to modulate the immune system. These molecules promote homeostasis and upregulate when the immune system is too slow and downregulate when it’s too active.
- In properly meaningful quantity 6.6 x 104 Da beta-linked aloe polysaccharides are known to exert an anti-inflammatory effect.
- In properly meaningful quantity plant steroids and plant sterols are known to exert an anti-inflammatory effect.
- In properly meaningful quantity plant anthraquinones are known to exert anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral effect, it is one of the plant’s mechanisms to see off pathogens. Laxative anthraquinones should be removed below detectable levels (note that Aloeride is non-latex).
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) is converted in vivo to nicotinamide (niacinamide) which is known to be useful for allergic skin reactions notably when given in meaningful quantity.
- Properly made, properly dosed aloe vera is known to exert wound-healing properties. Weeping sores repair quicker (naturally safest repair always happens from the inside out) and thus cease to be a further, open invitation to midges.
Simply sprinkled over feed, a meaningful quantity of palatable aloeride aloe vera powder is eaten readily even by fussy eaters. Smaller horses may use a portion of the sachet content (be careful that moisture doesn’t get to the powder). Commonly the first positive observation is less scratching and often this can happen within as little as two weeks, how this happens probably is a combination of effects. Kindly note that everything depends on the nutrient quality & quantity of what you buy for and feed to your horse, this very much is the key to success. If you are a horse owner who’s tried everything (like Michael, Elaine and many others) and you didn’t make the progress you had hoped for, then start feeding your horse 1 sachet every day to give it a robust chance to stand up to insect bites.
Horse & Hound magazine named Aloeride as one of their 2015 Best of British products. We are absolutely delighted by this and not a little bit proud of it too! We help horse owners to a unique feed supplement and to a fresh approach for equine issues. Aloeride helps horses thrive which usually translates into you having greater enjoyment and more success. Several nutrients in our palatable powder are unique to Aloeride -not just by being present but also by their quantity per serving- which means that you can’t get this help even from specialist feeds.
Other things to consider in sweet itch.
Environmental factors: If this is possible, horses susceptible to sweet itch should be removed from wet land, near water sources and near woodland. Midges are most active at dawn and dusk, so stable your horse from 4pm – 8am in the summer months (i.e. avoid dusk until dawn grazing). Would free roaming horses remain in the field(s) they’re in now? Is there any possibility to let your horse graze elsewhere?
Kill the midge: Make an old fashioned lotion from Digitalis Purpurea (foxgloves) and spray this liberally on your horse’s coat and skin areas where midges usually land. Do not lick your hands or fingers until you washed them thoroughly… Of its four glucosides, Digitoxin is the most powerful which is an extremely poisonous and cumulative drug, insoluble in water. Digitalin is crystalline and also insoluble in water. Digitalein is amorphous and readily soluble in water. Digitonin, which is a cardiac depressant, containing none of the physiological action peculiar to Digitalis, and is identical with Saponin, the chief constituent of Senega root. The poisonous nature of Digitalis Purpurea can be the death of the midge, applied externally it is harmless to your horse. Bring the plant (flowers, leaves, stem, roots) to the boil in a jam pan, let it simmer for four hours, let it cool down, put it through a strainer and pour into bottles -it keeps- or sprayer (shake before spraying onto horse). Gitalin is destroyed by the action of the boiling water but to create the toxic barrier for midges, this is here nor there. Do NOT use this infusion internally! You must clean your jam pan very thoroughly prior to making jam in it again.
Creating a barrier: Full body blankets including neck and belly may prevent ‘dorsal feeders’ midges biting but once sweet itch has taken hold, many an owner has witnessed rugs being scratched to tatters. As midges bite in the warmer seasons, body warmth and perspiration rise underneath the sheets, your horse -just like you- probably prefers to wear less clothing rather than more in such temperatures. Fitting a fly screen on the stable door may lower the chance of midges entering the stables. Switching on a caged fan in the stable creates air movement, and midges cannot fly against air currents stronger than 5 mph.
Coat applications: Will a fly repellent stop a hungry-for-blood midge? This certainly isn’t a failsafe approach but a reportedly decent one is Deosect, do be careful when applying it as this stings your horse if there are bites already (i.e. do NOT apply where skin is broken). Same goes for Versatrine (deltamethrine) just look out for any pulmonary effects it may have on your horse. Digitalis spray in my opinion is a significantly better idea. Citronella oil, garlic oil and tea tree oil may put midges off but it makes your horse a slippery creature, dust clings to oil really well and the smell won’t be to everybody’s liking. Perhaps better to add omega 3&6 oils to feed and improve the skin lipids that way (whilst at the same time improving lipids elsewhere in the horse’s body). You may want to read up about the right omega 3 : omega 6 ratio and grasp the huge benefits to your horse of what I coined Safer By Sebum.
Immunotherapy: For allergy, intolerance and sensitivity within humans some use low-dose immunotherapy antigen vaccines but from experience I know that this is by no means always successful. The regular injections, necessary to attempt desensitisation in your horse, come with a significant vet bill. One sachet a day pales into financial insignificance to this.
Steroids: Corticosteroid drugs are very effective at decreasing the itching and immuno suppressing but there is the problem with steroid associated kidney disorders and increased risk of laminitis. Also under BHA and FEI rules it disqualifies your horse for competition. If you can manage sweet itch without steroids (and often you can) then so much the better, no vet will disagree with that.
Vitamins & Oil: Fidavet cavalesse is a food supplement that contains Nicotinamide which reduces the production of histamine, which causes the itch, and also improves the skin lipid barrier. But of course Aloeride contains nicotinamide – as only one part of a very broad nutrient spectrum -, so you wouldn’t need to use cavalesse in addition to it.