How to treat a horse for insect bites

Written by laura college
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Horses, just like people, can become the targets of insects that make their homes in pastures, paddocks, stalls and even arenas. Also just like people, horses are uncomfortable and irritable when they are covered with insect bites, so it is important that you apply treatment as soon as you notice them on your horse.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Ice pack
  • Cool water
  • Insecticide
  • Cortisone cream
  • Phenylbutazone

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  1. 1

    Wash insect bites carefully with cool water before applying any topical ointment or cream. This washes away any agents in the bites that might cause allergic reactions, and will also help to soothe the horse's skin.

  2. 2

    Apply an ice pack to severe insect bites. The cold temperature will reduce swelling and soothe the burn of the bites, but should not be left on for more than ten or fifteen minutes. If an ice pack is not available, you can use bags of frozen vegetables.

  3. 3

    Coat the horse in an effective insecticide. You can find fly spray and other forms of insecticide at your local tack or feed store, or you can make your own with vinegar and water. This solution should be applied to the horse's coat at least twice daily to guard against future insect bites.

  4. 4

    Search the horse's habitat for areas of insect infestation. Flies, for example, are drawn to horse feed as well as manure and urine, and standing water will attract mosquitoes. Do your best to remove any potential breeding grounds for insects so that your horse isn't as easily exposed.

  5. 5

    Administer a dose of Phenylbutazone twice daily as long as the horse's insect bites are swollen. This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, that will reduce inflammation and facilitate healing. If the bites appear to be infected or if the horse has had an allergic reaction, your veterinarian might alternatively recommend Banamine as an injectable substitute.

  6. 6

    Apply cortisone cream to the insect bites. This should be administered twice daily, but watch the horse carefully for signs of a reaction. If there aren't any, you'll know that cortisone is safe for your horse in the future.

Tips and warnings

  • Cover feed bins and buckets with sheets of plastic or with empty feed bags. This will keep the majority of insects away.
  • Sift through the horse's shavings to make sure ants and other insects haven't made homes underneath.
  • Clean the horse's stall thoroughly after severe insect bites.
  • Avoid turning the horse out in the pasture after it rains.

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