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Sweet Itch Awareness Month

Amy Holloway

Sweet itch can be a major welfare concern and is known to affect three to five per cent of horses in the UK1.  With this in mind, Janssen Animal Health is joining forces with the British Horse Society (BHS), Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare (WHW) to launch the inaugural Sweet Itch Awareness Month (SIAM).

Taking place throughout April, the campaign will raise awareness of the serious and distressing condition and highlight the preventative measures that should be carried out to help alleviate sweet itch, together with the importance of management of the condition before the start of the midge season in the spring.

Lee Hackett, head of welfare at the BHS, comments: “Time and time again we come across horses that are suffering with sweet itch, it is a horrible condition that can be extremely distressing for horses and their owners. We are supporting SIAM because we firmly believe that knowledge and education are the key to preventing sweet itch.”

Nic de Brauwere, head of welfare at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, says: “With over 1100 residents and a further 500 in Guardian homes, sweet itch is something we are very aware of and a condition we request our Guardians be diligent about; our welfare team have seen firsthand the suffering a severe case can cause. We are supporting the SIAM because we believe preventative measures are currently the most effective way to protect horses from sweet itch. Quality information in the hands of caring owners is the best way to achieve this.”

Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive at World Horse Welfare, comments: “Sweet Itch is a condition that should not be ignored, it can cause considerable distress to the horse or pony and in severe cases can be a serious welfare problem. Proper management can normally alleviate the problem and action taken early can dramatically improve the animal’s chance of getting comfortably through the sweet itch season.”

“Summer skin conditions, such as sweet itch, can be difficult and frustrating to manage and they are often a real challenge for horse owners,” says David Blakey at Clent Hills Vet Group. “Sweet Itch Awareness Month will boost awareness of all aspects of this condition and other summer allergies and highlight the preventative measures that can help sufferers.”

The management and prevention of sweet itch should include moving the horse away from standing water and boggy land, stabling at morning and dusk and the use of fly repellents.  The most effective fly protection for horses out at grass are light rugs and hoods which can cover all the areas of the horse susceptible to bites.

CAVALESSE® and CAVALESSE® TOPICAL are easy-to-administer skincare products to help maintain a healthy skin in horses prone to summer skin allergies.  CAVALESSE is a natural food supplement containing a specialised formulation of water-soluble vitamins and minerals, including nicotinamide.  Once a month the contents of each sachet are simply dissolved in water to form an oral solution, which can be administered daily via a special pipette, either by sprinkling over a small handful of feed or adding to a treat.  The supplement helps horses maintain a healthy skin and promotes normal immune function.

CAVALESSE TOPICAL is a skincare gel that can be used in combination with the CAVALESSE solution.  The gel can be applied to the skin to help support natural immunity from the outside, whilst the oral solution works in partnership from the inside.

For further information on Sweet Itch Awareness Month, CAVALESSE and CAVALESSE TOPICAL, please visit or contact Clent Hills Equine Unit on 01562 701334.


1          McCaig, J. (1975) Recent thoughts on sweet itch, Veterinary Annual, 15th edn, Wright and Sons, Bristol, pp 204 – 206

Clent Hills Equine Unit are holding a Client Information evening on 7th April on Sweet itch and itchy ponies- introducing Cavalesse. The evening is at Stourbridge Golf Club and all are welcome. Tickets must be booked in advance by calling the Equine unit.

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