Sweet Itch and Feed Supplements

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If you have a horse that suffers from Sweet Itch you will know the struggle that other owners are going through right now, with midges seemingly out in force this summer, however with so many owners looking for ways to be able to help their horse to cope in these challenging months, we take a look at whether you can battle Sweet Itch with food supplementation.

Is Feeding My Horse Garlic Good for Sweet Itch?

One of the most common additives that owners add to their horse’s feed is garlic and while many don’t understand the benefit of doing so, the addition of powdered garlic does have a benefit to horses that suffer from sweet itch.

The benefit comes from the fact that powdered garlic is an aromatic ingredient and once consumed it can be absorbed into the horse’s body, which can act as a deterrent for midges that don’t like the smell that is dispelled through the horse’s sweat glands.

While the scale of bite prevention is considered to be small, used alongside other methods of prevention, garlic can be a good way to add a further reason for midges to not want to bite your horse.

What other supplements should I think about feeding my Sweet Itch horse?

There are a number of aromatic ingredients that have been shared as being used by others that have horses that suffer from Sweet Itch and while in individual cases the owner has stated that they believe that there has been some improvement to the horse’s condition, there are no definitive studies that show that any of the following have a noticeable effect, although they should give your horse’s immune system a boost.

While looking for things that you can add to feeds, you should be trying to find ingredients that have high levels of:

  • Omega 3
  • MSM
  • Niacin
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

What herbs should I feed my horse with Sweet Itch?

Traditionally horses that suffer from the condition have been fed herbs that have been speculated to improve skin health, aiding the recovery of the effects that occur when your horse suffers from an outbreak of Sweet Itch.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Clivers
  • Nettles
  • Chamomile

Sweet Itch Prevention Is More Than Food Supplementation

One of the most important aspects of keeping the effects of Sweet Itch at bay comes down to your daily management, meaning that before you turn to looking towards the sort of food additives that you could add to your horse’s feed, you should be taking preventative measures elsewhere too.

We know that the cause of Sweet Itch is an allergic reaction to Cullicoides midges, so before you begin to add to your horse’s feed, make sure that you are considerate of the facts that we know about the midges first and foremost.

For example, we know that midges like damp ground, open water, lush grazing and still air, so as the owner of a horse that suffers from the condition, you should be trying to keep your horse away from environments that fit into those criteria where possible, however, we know that doing so is not always suitable.

This is where you should be then looking at attempting to keep the midges away from your horse’s skin however possible, through the use of fly repellents, sweet itch rugs, and stabling at both dusk and dawn.

We will elaborate on those later within our Sweet Itch series of articles.

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