Peak Allergy Season Is Almost Here

Spring is just around the corner and with it all the plants, molds and insects that can spell allergy.

Studies in several species and different equine breeds have uncovered a genetic predisposition to develop allergies and even which genes are involved but destiny does not have to be ruled by genes.  The same tendency for allergy to run in families has been observed in dogs.

Allergy can be described as an unbalanced or exaggerated immune response to a normally encountered challenge. The body will be reacting to a specific protein, called the allergen, in pollen, mold or insect saliva. Seasonal allergies can involve the skin, eyes or respiratory tract with all the familiar signs. Allergy is even behind some cases of seasonal headshaking.  While horses are more prone to allergic reactions affecting the lung, in dogs it is more likely to be the skin with flea bite allergy being the most common.

Multiple drugs are available to treat allergy signs, and very effective when needed but the most effective, corticosteroids, come with the risk of significant side effects. There is also much you can do nutritionally to support the immune system’s ability to function in a healthful way.

A balanced diet is the first step because the minerals most likely to be deficient or negatively affected by imbalances are also those involved in homeostatic inflammatory pathways (magnesium, iodine) or have considerable antioxidant functions (copper, zinc, selenium).  Horses not on pasture have low levels of vitamin C and vitamin E as well as the critical omega-3 fatty acids which the immune system needs to maintain homeostasis. These nutrients put a strong foundation under the immune system, giving it the tools it needs to function properly.

When more support is needed there are many ways to boost the antioxidant  capacity of the body including supplemental glutamine, N-acetyl cysteine, MSM, bioflavonoids (e.g. quercetin), Turmeric, Ginger root, Green Tea, White Pine extract, alpha-lipoic acid, Grape Seed and Skin meal, Gingko biloba, Boswellia and Jiaogulan.  Gentle immune system support in the form of both pre and probiotics is indicated. Spirulina may be particularly useful as it supports the body’s normal beneficial antibody activity instead of the antibodies of allergy.  Spirulina also helps the body maintain normal histamine levels.

For best results, start your seasonal allergy support program at least 30 days in advance of allergy season.  This gives your animal’s body the best chance of functioning at its smoothest.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD


About Dr. Kellon

Graduate of University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School. Owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions,, industry and private nutritional consultations, online nutritional courses. Staff Veterinary Expert at Uckele Health and Nutrition .
This entry was posted in Equine Nutrition and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Peak Allergy Season Is Almost Here

  1. Colleen Stratton says:

    Late July, 2016, my horse (who is now 31) developed an eye ulcer. He scratched his cornea a few years later. Last summer, he had an indolent ulcer that required a very expensive and painful “burr debridement” surgery. Each injury happened in the late summer. My horse is still wearing the protective eye mask because he still rubs his face and eyes whenever he gets the chance. He has a few sores on his face from the mask. I’m dying to find a solution so he doesn’t have to wear it. Hydroxyzine twice a day didn’t stop him from rubbing. He’s laundry list of supplements and freshly ground flaxseed and chia. Do you have a suggestions?


    • Dr. Kellon says:

      The development of allergies late in life is a sign the immune system is not functioning properly. That plus the slow healing could mean Cushing’s Disease (PPPID). I would check for that even if he doesn’t have any other symptoms. If you already know he has PPID, check ACTH to make sure it is controlled. You could also try ivermectin every 3 weeks for neck threadworm larvae. They often migrate to the head and cause itching. Sew a strip of fleece to the edge of your mask to stop it from rubbing and create a better seal.


      • Deborah Tompkins says:

        Ivermectin used to be available as a shot when it first hit the market. We gave it to an App that had “blue eye, or snow blind” every winter, a reaction of a parasite in the eye to the “blinding snow”. He had to be kept in the “dark” and medicated with “eye drops”.
        After the shot he never had the issue again.


      • Colleen Stratton says:

        Interesting!! Last June, my horse started walling slower and I suspected Cushings. The vet ruled out Cushings because my horse doesn’t drink a lot of water. Since then, someone told me that my horse could have Cushings even though he doesn’t drink a lot water? Do you agree? I will get a second opinion.

        Btw, I now think the reason my horse was walking slow, was because he had the beginnings of hind suspensory ligament injury. My poor horse!

        The eye injury problems started the summer my horse moved to the corner stall, which has more dust and flies.He needed to wear a fly mask in the summer. In the old stall, inside the barn, second to the end, he never wore a fly mask. My horse is moving back to the old stall in a few days.

        My horse is white. I thought his was a contributing factor and that flies were more attracted to his eye. Recently, my horse’s vet said it’s not his color. It’s his age. He pointed out that my horse’s eyelids are loose, in compared to younger horses and that attracts flies. My horse has several high quality fly mask. Could the looser eyelids be caused by inflammation?


      • Colleen says:

        Per your advice, I got my horse tested for Cushings. He tested positive. He had non of the typical symptoms. His coat is gorgeous. His ACTH level was 140. You were right. Thank you!!!


    • Deborah Tompkins says:

      rotating different style masks may change the pressure points. Also I have had very good luck with colloidal silver for unknown and unresponsive itchys and it is safe to get in the eye. I would rub it in around the eye and flush up the tear duct with it. Beware silver kept in plastic bottles is weakened, it should be in dark glass.


      • Colleen Stratton says:

        Thanks! What’s your favorite brand of colloidal silver?


      • Deborah Tompkins says:

        actually we had so much success on many issues with the silver brewed by a friend, that to keep up with demand several of us got together and bought a machine and make our own. Got dark wine bottles from other friends to keep it in. the machine paid for itself the first year. we have so far many stories of “healings’ we attribute to it, horse, human, dog, cat; from respiratory to reduction of Lyme symptoms. An ad may locate one near you so you could try it. Off the shelf it tends to be poorly packaged and dearly priced.


  2. Susan Sereda says:

    Dr Kellon, can you recommend a supplement for a 14 year old mare that has COPD -symptoms subside in winter and increase in summer. Would like to provide supplemental help in the spring through fall. Have tried a mixture of mullein, Vit C and spirulina in the past but to be honest I am unsure of proportions. Thank you in advance


  3. Deborah Tompkins says:

    allergy season and runny eyes, seems to me flushing the tear duct of irritations should be included here. With diagram of the duct and its ends locations, etc…..


  4. lrushing7gmailcom says:

    I’m sorry this question is off topic. Can iron overload cause horses to loose large amounts of mane? My friends stallions mane is shedding tons of hair. He’s not rubbing it out.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.