Essential Oils for Equine Allergies

Last week, I wrote about nutritional support for equine allergies for the first installment of my three-part equine allergy series.  This series was inspired by my own mare, Lee Lee, who has been experiencing some skin allergies this summer.

If your horse suffers from either lung or skin allergies, I would start by taking a look at his diet and then see what you should eliminate or add to address the problem.  But with that said, there are other ways to naturally support the immune system and one of those is using essential oils.  And while I wouldn’t rely solely on essential oils to treat a horse with allergies, they can be a wonderful conjunctive therapy.

Essential oils are natural compounds derived from seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants.  These oils give plants their distinctive smells, help protect the plant against predators and disease, and aid in pollination.  They’ve also been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

 

essential oils

 

Although I’m fairly new to using these oils, I have been very impressed with their effectiveness for just about everything.  I now use essential oils for my own skin care (instead of lotion), homemade fly spray, insect repellent for my family, and treating bug bites and poison ivy. I’ve also used essential oils for treating thrush in horses and for aromatherapy for a couple different horsey issues.

 

How to Use Essential Oils with Horses

There are two basic ways you can use essential oils at home with your horse–aromatherapy and topical application. (Some can be taken internally, but I wouldn’t advise doing this without professional advice.)  Make sure you use therapeutic grade oils and not perfume grade oils.

You will want to let your horse choose the oils which will help him/her best though.  (Yes, really!)  Horses have a very sensitive sense of smell, and they will let you know if they like an essential oil or not.  Before you use an oil, hold the open bottle (or some oil dabbed on a cotton ball) close to the horse’s nose so he can sniff it.  His reaction to the oil will let you know whether you should use it or not.

 

DSC05449

Lee Lee liked the lavender. She sniffed it and then licked and chewed several times.

 

Sometimes, the horse will show interest in the oil and possibly lick and chew.  At other times, he may turn away from the oil as if repelled by it.  You can also present several oils at one time and see which one the horse likes best.

Here is a good demonstration by equine massage therapist, Lisa Carter showing how to let a horse choose oils.

If you use an oil topically, it’s generally recommended that you dilute it in a carrier oil (such as grapeseed or sunflower oil).

(For more information on how to use essential oils with horses, see this post.)

 

Essential Oils for Equine Allergies

The following essential oils have anti-inflammatory and/or anti-histamine characteristics and have been shown to be useful for horses with allergies:

These oils are known for their soothing properties and can be useful topically for skin allergies or irritations:

 

Stay tuned for my third post in this series–Acupressure for Equine Allergies!

Ta-ta,

Casie

 

Sources

Essential Oils to Help with Your Horse’s Allergies

Natural Allergy Relief for the Horse

Essential Oils for Horses

Natural Support for Allergies and Skin Conditions

 

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any horse.  Never replace essential oil use for responsible veterinary care and always check with your veterinarian if you have specific concerns.

Casie

Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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5 Responses

  1. Good to learn what the oils can do. love the post.

  2. Karen Snider says:

    We have a horse who developed a terrible allergy to something once we moved her from Mena, AR to Waurika, OK. She broke out the first summer here. We took her to the vet that summer and he gave her an allergy shot. It seems to lesson it a bit but not control it. Went away over the winter. Spring came again and it was worse than the previous summer. We took her to 2 other vets. One vet mixed up a shot for allergies consisting of various stuff said to help with this type of allergy and prescribed a powder medication for her feed. It helped somewhat but did not eliminate the allergies (massive itching where she wore her mane and tail off and scratched on everything). Once again, winter it went away. Next summer season came and we tried some herbal remedies from online readings. We gave her spirulina, garlic and tumeric. She hated the taste of these and feeding time became more difficult because she wanted to eat the others horses feed. We had to lock her up and she would eventually eat most of it. Her allergies once again seemed somewhat better but did not go away. By the end of that summer she developed a swollen back lower leg. Took her to the vet and he said she nearly blew out her tendon. More internet research and fear was that the herbal treatment had somehow caused or contributed to the leg issue. We spent the next 4 or 5 months treating the leg and of course stopping the herbs since winter was nearly upon us and the reaction was going away. Once again spring arrived and the allergies came back. We were fearful to continue the herbal treatment although it was the most effective of all three things we had done. We didn’t want her leg issue to return again. Well she now has really bad sores all over her back, underside, and loss of lots of hair. She seems fine except for all the itching which she does almost not stop. She spends a lot of time in the barn during the day. We have tried to find her a new home in a any area where this allergy issue is not but have been unsuccessful. I have been reading the internet sites on horse allergies again in search of some remedies that would help her and topical to help sooth the sores. Was wondering what things you might suggest we try. I am wanting to move her to our back yard but have to get a fence up. This would allow us to better treat her and keep a closer eye on the sores. I would say she was a severe case of allergies to what possibly is gnats.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Karen–It sounds like she might have ‘sweet itch’. I feel for both her and you as I know how frustrating this condition can be. I also have a mare who’s developed skin allergies during the summer the last couple of years. Right now, I’m feeding her dried nettle leaf and MSM. It can take a while to see a difference though and it’s better to start treating nutritionally before they start (like in the spring). I did not do that this year, perhaps because I was really hoping they wouldn’t come back! I do know that allergies are the result of an overreactive immune system. Here’s another post I did nutritional support in case you haven’t seen it: http://thenaturallyhealthyhorse.com/nutritonal-support-equine-allergies/

      Best of luck to you,

      Casie

  3. Melanie says:

    Hi Karen,
    This sounds like Sweet itch , allergic reaction to midges. Sweet itch treatment is time consuming and needs a flexible approach. Treatment options are various , acupuncture, herbs , Bukas blanket , several grooming products , Tissue Cell Salts ( Dr. Schuessler), homeopathy, essential oils. Cleanliness and a daily grooming regime are very important. Midges are most active at dawn and dusk ( also night). Treatment should start before spring as the Immune System needs to be strengthend before the horse starts scratching. Once it’s started, the scratches themselves are causing trouble. If your mare is not a boodmare, try Neem Oil on mane, tail, spine underside of the belly and chest , ears ( careful not to get it into the eyes or nose. For open scratches Aloe Vera Gel with a few drops of Lavender. Blanket the horse if possible. MTG products is also an option , but might cause allergic reaction. Not all horses tolerate it . I’d also use a quality fly spray in the evening , careful with Citronella it can also cause allergic reactions. Also , if you give your horse freshly ground Flax seeds is healthy for coat and gut. Oils on the body need to be washed off several times per week , as they can clog pores and cause more itching. But midges don’t like oils . I recommend researching sweet itch via books on the subject. Also herbs need to be researched thoroughly. Short term use ( 4 weeks) is best.
    Good Luck
    Melanie

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