Many people are allergic to animals. The most common allergies are to household pets, such as cats and dogs, but allergies to horses can cause a great deal of discomfort as well. Allergic reactions to horses are usually triggered by the flakes of skin and hair called dander, which the horse sheds like dandruff. Horse urine and saliva can also trigger an allergic response. For people who are allergic to horses, not only contact with the horse can trigger an allergy but even contact with clothing or equipment that carries dander can cause allergy symptoms to flare up. People with seasonal and other allergies are more likely to suffer from allergies to animals, as well. People with asthma should be especially careful of reactions to allergens, and they should be prepared when they come into contact with horses. If you are asthmatic, you should have medication on hand in case of an asthma attack.
Horse allergies can cause many of the same symptoms that are associated with other allergies. The body reacts to allergens by releasing histamines, the overreaction of the body's immune system to a foreign substance. Allergy symptoms can strike in different degrees of severity, and medications such as antihistamines and decongestants can relieve symptoms. Histamines released into the bloodstream cause eye irritations, such as swollen, red and watery eyes. An allergic response can also cause hives, rashes, itching, sneezing, nasal congestion and runny nose. For people who are asthmatic, an allergic reaction can result in a severe asthma attack, wheezing or shortness of breath. Special care should be taken with asthmatic children. An innocent pony ride can trigger an asthma attack that can result in severe respiratory problems that require immediate medical attention.