Q: My trainer up in Canada body clipped my horse and five other horses in his barn so that they'd dry more quickly after being bathed during the winter months. The horses in his barn that were clipped all developed a case of hives within a few weeks after clipping. He's tried changing the bedding and taking the sweet feed away for the winter months. No other changes in the diet were made. The hives have persisted for almost two months. Can clipping horses' body hair off for the winter cause hives? And are there any remedies? --Daren Gottfried, via email

A: While cold in itself can cause hives, this is very rare and it's quite unlikely you'll see it in multiple horses. Occasionally foodstuffs will do this but, again, it’s unlikely in multiple horses all at the same time, especially if the hives were noted only after the clipping. Because the skin is more exposed now, I'd be most suspicious of any blankets: either something that is used in the washing of the blankets, or the fact that dust mite antigens (which can cause allergic problems in horses, and have been found in horse blankets) are triggering the reactions. If the former, washing in a very mild ("for babies") detergent should help. If the latter, running the dryer cycle several times (ideally, sun-drying is best, but this may not be possible given the geographic location) would be my approach.

About the Author

Stephen D. White, DVM, Dipl. ACVD

Stephen D. White, DVM, Dipl. ACVD, is a professor in the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of California, Davis.

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