Background: Food allergies (immune-mediated hypersensitivities) and food intolerances, which are often non-immune-mediated, are common conditions.
Symptoms: Frequently digestive in origin, including diarrhea, enteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and malabsorption. Other signs can develop including skin and coat problems, respiratory symptoms.
Diagnostics: The best way to diagnose the condition is through IGE blood testing for allergens, or food elimination diets. However, blood testing is not definitive, especially for food intolerances, so elimination may often be required.
Special Notes: Food allergies should be considered when horses have chronic disease symptoms that are non-responsive to carefully selected treatments.
Principles for Supplementation: Treatment consists of therapy directed at the organ affected, along with elimination of the foods to which the animal is reactive. Digestive enzymes are often indicated, as the digestive tract is often functioning at less than optimal levels. B-complex has been found to increase the effectiveness of conventional treatment; many horses are at least partially B-vitamin deficient because of poor quality bacterial flora.