Are you one of those horse owners who dread the summer coming because it will turn your beautiful horse into an itchy mess? You’re looking forward to the show season but your horse or pony just wants to rub away its mane and tail right when you want them to look their best. If your pride and joy suffers from Sweet Itch you’re going to need all the help you can get to win this battle.
What causes sweet itch?
Horses with Sweet Itch have an allergic reaction to the saliva of midges and mosquitos when they are bitten. They can become very uncomfortable and will use anything they can find to rub on, causing hair loss, sores and thickening of the skin. There are three main ways you can try and control Sweet Itch throughout the summer and keep your horse comfortable:
- Make sure your horse or pony is turned out in an area where there are fewer biting insects or consider only turning them out overnight
- Use a quality fly rug to protect them all over from bites
- Use fly repellents and creams to repel flies and protect vulnerable areas
The 3 Best Products for Treating Sweet Itch
1.Killitch Treatment for Horses
Killitch is a light, soothing lotion that you can apply from early Spring to build up protection before midge problems begin. The key ingredient is Benzyl Benzoate which is very effective in preventing itching before any soreness develops. It also contains soothing botanicals and a strong repellent to deter Cullicoides Midges.
Apply the cream to areas that are often unprotected, such as areas around genitalia, middle of the tummy (especially where your girth sits), tops of the legs, in the mane and tail, and on the ears if they are not covered by a fly mask with ears (which is preferred if your horse will wear one). Don’t wait until your horse starts to have bald patches to start applying Killitch, get into the habit of applying it once or twice daily in these areas. You can get Killitch here.
A bottle of Benzyl Benzoate is a more budget-friendly option than Killitch, and just as effective. The only real difference is you should wear gloves when you apply it. Like Killitch, apply it twice a day to the areas outlined above. Get your bottle of Benzyl Benzoate here.
Deosect is another great product to have in your anti-fly toolkit. Deosect is a concentrated liquid containing 5% cypermethrin, a very effective insecticide which stops insects biting and starting the chain of irritation that leads to Sweet Itch. Deosect must be diluted with water and is best used within 24 hours – misting all over the horse. If your horse doesn’t like sprays, you can dab it on with a sponge. You can buy Deosect here.
More Useful Tips for Sweet Itch Treatment
These products will really get your horse prepared for the Sweet Itch season but there are other things you can add on a daily basis to keep in control:
- Invest in the best fly rug you can. Fly rugs with zebra stripes really make a difference to the number of flies your horse will attract. You could also go for a specialised Sweet Itch rug which will offer protection for all vulnerable parts of your horse or pony. If you can find one that combines both aspects, you’ll enjoy a relatively fly-free summer.
- If your horse lives out, try to have 2 fly rugs and masks so you can take one home to wash or repair and put another on.
Stay on top of your daily/twice daily application, even if it seems like flies aren’t as bad this year.
- Make sure you shampoo your horse regularly with a gentle wash (tea tree, washes designed for sensitive areas, or baby bath work well) to clear away build up. This is also an opportunity to check for any sore places and apply medicated protection such as Sudocrem. Make sure you reapply your repellents and lotions.
- Apply repellent to your fly rugs and the rear of masks for additional protection, especially if your horse isn’t keen on sprays.
Where to buy sweet itch treatments in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham & beyond?
You can find a range of fly repellent sprays at your local equine shop but more specialised treatments will only be available through an accredited veterinary pharmacy, like Vet Pharmacy. Vet Pharmacy delivers all over the UK, so you don’t need to leave the house and hope your local equestrian shop has what you need.