Trying to figure out why a horse is perpetually itchy can be a frustrating, head-scratching, expensive experience. Our last-ditch effort before jumping to allergy shots for Amelia was the elimination diet. Cutting out all of the things she is potentially allergic to in her feed regimen seemed to make a difference, but once bug season rolled around this spring there weren’t really any better options. Being on an oral antihistamine twice daily helped quite a bit, but even with that she continued to scratch. Dr. Lewis of Rainland Farm has been the veterinarian overseeing her recently, and she suggested that our next move be to start hyposensitization injections, or allergy shots.
The solution that we’re injecting was compounded based on the results of Amelia’s allergy blood panel that was done a few months ago. A lab creates this solution by adding small amounts of the things that she’s allergic to. We began injecting Amelia with tiny amounts of this liquid every other day. As time goes by, the time between injections gets longer and the concentration of the liquid gets stronger. The idea is that these increasing amounts of allergen will eventually make her immune system tolerant of the things that cause her itchiness.
Amelia doesn’t mind the injections at all. The needle that we use is tiny, and she gets a little reward after each shot. Once we’re through this initial course of injections (it will take a few more months), she’ll get put on a maintenance schedule. Those shots will be spaced farther out, but her future adopter will need to keep up on them if it turns out that this is the answer to her allergy woes. Luckily, the hyposensitization treatment is relatively inexpensive. We’ll be saving a lot of money by going this route than by giving her the antihistamine twice daily, and it will be nice if we can keep her allergies at by eliminating the problem at the source rather than just suppressing her symptoms.