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What is an Allergy? 

The word ‘allergy’ is of Greek origin and means abnormal response. This occurs when the body acts abnormally to normally harmless substances such as pollen, dust or fungal spores in hay, certain foods (some react to the methionine in lucerne), insect stings, plants and chemical pollutants. A chain reaction occurs when the immune system mistakes a benign substance for a dangerous foreign invader. The immune system goes into over drive and produces an excess of histamine, this widens the capillaries in the membrane, which increases blood flow which in turn causes swelling. These allergens can also cause white blood cells to produce the allergic antibody which is responsible for leaky capillaries so that a watery fluid in the blood escapes and causes a runny nose and nasal congestion

All cells are surrounded by a fatty acid called arachidonic acid. If this is attacked by free radicals then new compounds are formed including prostaglandin 2 and thromboxanes which  promote inflammation.


  • Diet high in sugars and or carbohydrates.
  • Diet consisting solely of processed and dry feeds.
  • Diet lacking in quality proteins as would be found in fresh meat and poultry. These are essential for pet health.
  • Processed feeds that have hidden sugars and polyunsaturated oils to include trans fats.
  • A diet low in Omega oils in particular an imbalance between Omega 3, 6 and 9. with the percentage of omega 6 higher than it should be.
  • Omega oils that have been added at the time of manufacture as these will have been exposed to heat, light and oxygen.
  • Plant based contact allergens in the environment to include: some grasses,  wandering willy, ivy, jonquil sap and many more.
  • Flea bites on the skin will trigger an inflammatory and histamine response.
  • Periods of stress and anxiety may present itself later as skin related irritations.
  • Some endocrine problems like cushings and thyroid issues may cause skin problems and loss of hair.
  • Skin parasites and some fungi like ringworm will present as irritations.
  • Ear mites can bring some dogs to despair causing them to scratch to the point of bleeding.


  • Allergies that affect the upper respiratory  may include hay fever, allergic rhinitis.
  • Asthmatic allergies present themselves as breathing difficulties.
  • Flea related skin allergies also can develop into compulsive obsessive scratching and licking of paws
  • Other allergies may present themselves as skin irritations and rashes, loss of hair and itchiness.
  • In some cases Compulsive Obsessive Scratching  occurs in response to an allergen.
  • Areas under the belly or between legs will be red and inflamed.

Veterinary Treatment

These may include:

  • Anti-histamines which block the release of histamines.
  • Anti-inflammatory agents such as cortisone.
  • Decongestants such as ephidrine, phenylpropanolamine and potassium iodide.

Management Tips 

This may involve a number of things firstly to identify what may be the suspected trigger for the allergic response and secondly making a few basic changes to your horse’s feed and training regime.

  • Start by removing all processed and pre-mixed feeds from the diet and replace with food you prepare yourself as found in Recipes
  • Ensure that the home and garden is free from known allergens and poisonous plants.
  • Where possible minimise exposure to known allergens.
  • Treat for fleas as their bites can trigger an allergic response.
  • Look at changing pet bedding regularly
  • Reduce the percentage of grains in your pet’s food. Some dry kibbles have little or no grain.
  • If feeding any processed foods make sure that they have no added polyunsaturated oils or omega oils at all. Coconut oil is fine.
  • Make sure there is no hidden sugars in any processed food. Do not feed sweet treats no matter how appealing those eye are.

 Alternative and Herbal Treatment

  • St John’s Wort may help with obsessive compulsive paw licking by addressing the dopamine/ cortisol feedback loop.
  • Chamomile may help as it is a mild naturally occurring anti histamine
  • For allergies affecting mechanical breathing difficulties herbs of choice would include gingko may prevent bronchial restriction. Gingko stops the cascade of archidonic acid(  cell lipid) and its derivatives. In other words prevents oxidation of cell lipids.
  • Ashwagandha which is an adaptogenic herb will help with endocrine related skin irritations.
  • Nettle,  added to your pet’s food while cooking or if  on a raw diet just blanch the leaves to reduce congestion and inflammation.
  • Quercetin is a member of the flavonoid family which helps stabilise the cell membranes of mast cells and basophils thus preventing them from spilling their supply of histamine/seratonin into the surrounding blood and tissues. Chlorophyll,  blue green algae, spinach and kale  are good supplies of this flavonoid.
  • Vitamin C The same stress that triggers the release of histamine increases the need for vitamin C, Studies have shown that between 1gm and 3gm will reduce the histamine levels by 40%.
  • When washing your pet rinse off with a weak solution of organic cider vinegar.
  • Sometimes just rubbing the area with coconut oil will help soothe the skin.
  • A spray containing Calendula and St John’s Wort can help address minor allergic responses.
  • Ear mites can be addressed by applying a range of essential oils as well as macerated Calendula  and St John’s Wort.



DISCLAIMER: Hira Laboratories will not be held responsible for the use or misuse of any products listed. We recommend that either a qualified herbalist or your animal professional carry out diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Herbal remedies must not be given not be taken in conjunction with other medication with out consulting a medical professional.


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