I have been hearing many frustrated horse owners about the increase of insects, swarms of "new" insects they're asking help to identify and even seeing different insects in my own area.
The frustration and struggle is real. During hurricane and tornado season it might be best to accept that you're going to have itchy, irritated horses and an increase in insects you've never seen before especially during a higher rated (F4-F5) hurricane or tornado.
The reason: Bugs become airborne in torrential winds. They get swept up from their home and sent hundreds to thousands of miles away. Each time the wind gust kicks up, it picks up whatever is there and pushes it further and further from its original spot. If you've ever seen the news stories on your local station, people have found their stuff counties away.
Insects are not the only issue during a storm, fungus, bacteria and viruses are also swept up and sent with the wind, then the rains push them to the ground creating a whole new issue for horse and animal owners alike. Your vet might be seeing a brand new case of something he or she has never dealt with before, or even heard of leaving your vet to scratch their heads and you even more frustrated. You want to keep your horse healthy, but how do you do that when no one knows "what" it is that's wrong?
Often we as horse and animal owners, grab whatever we can, evacuate, then if possible we return to the scene to assess the damage and make decisions as to what must we do first. Maybe you've been in flooding areas and your horses have been in those flood waters. There's a whole new issue to deal with in regards to flood waters, however for the sake of this post I'm going to keep it within the parameters of the storms. After all, it's virtually the same issue, except with waters from rain and from entirely different areas that come washing through your pastures.
When it comes time to treat your horses and your vet has no clue, think back and try to remember if there were any very strong storms that came through your area and which direction they came from. Be your own detective. Winds and water can come from other neighboring states so google vets in other states, grab the phone and give them a call in regards to your issues. They may have been treating those issues and can point your vet in a direction of treatment.
You want to relieve your horses new misery, so you take to your face-book group and ask people, Help! Neither my vet nor myself have ever dealt with this, does anyone have an idea of what it might be? If your group is large enough, you might just find a few people who either are dealing with or have dealt with the same thing you're faced with now and can tell you what their vet has done and suggest a treatment you can then discuss with your vet.
The biggest issue I have seen discussed thus far is Welting horses. Changing of the seasons and with the recent outbreak of hurricanes and tornadoes lead me to believe there are new bugs on the scene causing bad allergic reactions not only for horses but humans as well. Sneezing, itching, runny eyes and nose... Welcome to Fall! Your horse now has quarter sized welts all over, is super itchy and becoming grouchy. Grab the benedryl or whatever antihistamine you have and both you and your horse are now having a dose (after discussing it with your vet of course).
Having these new issues is similar to moving to a new home in a new state. There are many factors that will be so different than where you're from and you'll have to learn a new way to navigate them all. New pastures mean different grasses and weeds to deal with which gives you, Hello! New allergies to treat.
There aren't any preventatives per sey and quite honestly, horses have dealt with outdoor seasonal issues long before we came on the scene. Sometimes, I think we do too much and create more issues when thinking we're helping in some sort of way. I mean, no one who loves their horse wants to see them suffer in any way shape or form. Perhaps our idea of keeping them safe is really not helping at all and if we didn't interfere, they probably would be just fine in a day or 2 without our input.
So the next time your horse welts up, take a minute to think if there have been any storms or floods that might have brought a new allergy issue to your property, arm yourself with information and discuss it with your vet about the possibility of some new bug from another area or state that might be causing the issue. It might just help save you, your horse and your vet the frustration of trying treatment after treatment and nothing seems to be working.
Photo credit: Google search
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.