Can honey help to alleviate hay fever in horses?

Can honey help to alleviate hay fever in horses?

Hay fever in horses

Hay fever in horses, also known as equine hay fever and Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, can affect both young and old horses and appears to be a common allergy in horses . The symptoms of hay fever in horses may not appear to be quite the same as in humans and due to this, hay fever in horses may also be referred to as Allergic Respiratory Disease. Owners of horses with hay fever report that their animals frequently suffer from coughing, lethargy during exercise and eye discharge. These symptoms are clearly quite distinct from those of hay fever in humans, which typically include sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes . It is also reported to be possible that a horse suffering from hay fever may be susceptible to inflamed lungs – this in turn can lead to an increased vulnerability to bacterial and viral infections of the lungs.


How can hay fever in horses be prevented?

Hay fever is caused by the horse demonstrating an allergic reaction to pollen in the air. Pollen is released from grasses, flowering plants and trees during the Spring and Summer months. Breathing in these tiny abundant particles can cause allergic reactions – hay fever – in humans, horses and some other animals. Hairs lining a horse’s nasal cavity can trap some of these pollen particles, preventing them from travelling any deeper into the airway. However, the sheer volume of pollen released during the height of the Spring and Summer months means that these particles can sometimes build up in a horse’s nasal cavity. This can be problematic for susceptible horses as it can trigger an allergic reaction, leading to inflammation of the airways.

There are some obvious practical measures that can be taken to help prevent hay fever in horses. These include storing hay away from stables, soaking the hay in water before feeding, stabling your horse during the day and turning them out at night, and keeping stables as well ventilated as possible. However, these measures will do little to counteract the effects of airborne pollen, which is almost impossible to avoid. So, what else can you do to help to protect your horse against this seasonal ailment?

Using honey to reduce the symptoms of hay fever in horses

There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence linking the benefits of regular moderate consumption of local honey with the reduction of hay fever symptoms in humans. Local honey contains traces of local pollen. Eating small amounts of local honey on a regular basis could help improve immunity to that pollen. This could then lead to an improvement in hay fever symptoms – less itchy eyes, fewer skin rashes, reduced sneezing etc. There is also an increasing amount of scientific and medical evidence which supports the use of honey as a traditional and homoeopathic treatment for hay fever. Research on the role of honey in the treatment of hay fever symptoms in humans, for example alleviating inflammation of the inside of nasal passages caused by pollen, has indicated that ingesting honey can improve the symptoms of this condition, making it a suitable therapy for hay fever sufferers .


Many individuals believe that horses, like humans, can benefit from local honey to help to reduce the effects of pollen allergies leading to hay fever. As for human treatment, local honey needs to be fed to your horse before pollen levels reach their peak in the Spring and Summer. Regular and consistent exposure to the low levels of local pollen in the honey will help to build up your horse’s resistance to the effects of the pollen.

Small amounts of honey should not cause any problems for a horse . Aside from the effects local honey can have on hay fever symptoms in horses, pure honey also contains a range of nutrients which could benefit a horse’s overall health . Calcium, Vitamins A and B, protein and antioxidants found in pure local honey can have a positive effect on a horse’s health. Pure honey from your local beekeeper can be easily incorporated into tasty homemade horse treats


Final words

Evidence suggests that there is no reason why horses should not benefit from ingesting moderate doses of pure local honey. Honey is beneficial for  their overall health and wellbeing and to help them overcome the symptoms of horse hay fever. It is, however, very important that, should you decide to feed honey to your horse, you choose good quality local honey.

Honeys exist in a range of different colours, sizes and varieties. Beware of mass produced, imported honeys. These blended honeys may not offer protection against the symptoms of hay fever. Recent reports suggest, may sometimes be little more that sugar syrups disguised as honey


Stone’s Honey is a pure honey which is unpasteurised, cold-filtered and unblended. It therefore retains all of the natural benefits of the product. Stone’s Honey is a great source of native British pollen. This may help your horse (or yourself) begin to develop some resistance to pollen allergies.

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