Horse Allergies

This page is an overview of different allergens, and why we worry when individuals have allergies to other animals or meats.   

 Most allergens share commonalities between species. An example: Albumin is a protein made by all animals, and holds fluids in the bloodstream and carries vitamins and enzymes throughout the body.  Albumin made by cats has the same functions as albumin made by dogs, horses, and people, but the structure of albumin is a slightly different in each species.  

Our immune system can react to albumins from other animals and foods.  There are different epitopes (places the immune system can bind) on albumins.  For instance, there are 6 epitopes found on albumin in chicken eggs. Some of these epitopes are the same between species, and others are are totally different.  Our immune system is highly adaptable and variable, and each person will react to allergens in a different way.  

For an illustration, consider a PaperMate Pencil and Papermate Pen (and think of them as allergens).  There are different latch-points on the Pencil (the writing tip, barrel, shirt clip, and eraser).  If your immune system latches onto the shirt clip of the Pencil, you will also react to the Pen. Whereas, if my immune system latches onto the writing tip of the Pencil, I will not react to the Pen.

Looking at the commonest cat allergens, you can see why there are cross reactions. 

Fel d 1 ~ Cat uteroglobin not found in other animals. 

Fel d 2 ~ Cat serum albumin, sharing epitopes with Dog and Horse, and also meat from Pork or Beef.

Fel d 4 ~ Cat lipocalin, sharing epitopes with Horse, Boar, Mouse, Cow

Horses are one of the most important and significant sources of mammalian allergens, and occur in half of individuals with prolonged contact.  Anaphylaxis in children can occur from exposure to horse albumin or lipocalin without warning, though minor symptoms are usually present prior, and include asthma, itching, eczema, etc.  Childrens Chewable Benadryl may be advisable when allergic children visit horses, as Benedryl can abort severe reactions.

Anyone with allergies to Horses, Dogs, Rabbits, or with food allergies to Pork, Egg, Beef may still react to a low Fel d 1 Siberian.  These cross-reactive allergies are the primary cause of failure when placing a tested very low Fel d 1 Siberian in a home with allergies.  We sucessfully place kittens in about 40% of these situations. Because of this risk of these reactions, it is important that folks with these allergies spend some time with a tested very low Siberian before purchasing a kitten.

qu1© Meredith Lundberg 2015