My horse coughs! Information and tips on causes and treatment
According to studies, about 50% of all horses living in stalls suffer from coughing. But also in open stables you can hear more and more horses coughing. That's why I took up the topic and approached the veterinarian for homeopathy, Dr. med. vet. Svenja Thiede, dexterous. It explains in detail and well understandable why horses cough, how horse cough differs from horse cough and what can help with coughing.
I got to know Svenja in the context of a newspaper article about homeopathy for horses. A first interview by and with her, which appeared here, deals with the importance of metabolism in horses. Svenja had a driving practice near Hamburg. Is a lecturer at the Animal Science Institute Rohm.
Karolina from 360° Pferd: Dear Svenja, why do you think you currently hear very often from concerned horse owners "my horse is coughing"??
Svenja Thiede: In addition there are naturally at present only amptions. If a disease occurs more frequently, one must always ask oneself: Have the diagnostic methods changed/improved so that we see more than before – or has the disease actually become more frequent?? I think the
Environmental conditions of our horses have changed so, that certain diseases occur more often, but horse owners are also looking more closely. Much has improved for the horses, but some things are not (yet) optimal.
In relation to coughing very often the Roughage made responsible. Plenty of roughage is so insanely important for the horse's digestive physiology and metabolism, but the quality unfortunately leaves more and more to be desired.
In the winter – and in some cases all year round – horses always have to Hay have available, but this seems more and more often strongly with dust charged.
In the winter half-year horses sit down surely exactly like us with one or the other Virus apart, which is not noticeable at all in most horses (you sometimes see by chance in the blood work that an infection is or was in the stable), in some the nose runs a bit in faster gaits, and others cough again. If then the The horse's environment is heavily polluted with dust is – possibly a strongly increased content of mold spores is present – it becomes difficult for a coughing horse to bring the cough to healing.
The daily food, the straw in the box, the dusty indoor riding arena irritate the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract around the clock.
Why is the hay dusty? The reasons are many..
Why the hay is so dusty can of course not be generalized, but there are a few things that can be the cause. Hay is often mowed too short, to get more of the meadow. Thereby comes a lot of soil in the mown grass and later in the bales. In particular on the compensation areas so gladly taken by horse owners, which are not fertilized and sprayed ("bio hay"), the subsoil is often so uneven that it is not at all possible not to "mow off" any earth with it.
Our humid summer the last few years do the rest: only a few days are left for drying and turning, the ground is mostly warm and humid – all kinds of mold are happy to be in the ground (where they belong) and make themselves comfortable in the hay.
During the Heureife, when the Pressed bales still warm and moist the mold can spread undisturbed throughout the bale. This does not mean that all hay is totally contaminated with mold, but I think the problem has become more frequent. Let's see if the coming summer will be better for us..
Basically, however, is also Dust without mold is a problem for coughing horses. I have also had hay from drying plants in the hand, which was extremely dusty. The grass comes directly after the mowing into the drying, i.e. the turning, with which on the meadow all crumbs, pollen etc. are removed. downward fall through, is omitted, the fine parts are compressed with. This hay is hygienic, but may have to be. must be moistened so that it does not become so dusty.
Making good hay is a science in itself. Many farmers do this "on the side", have compensation areas from which they can obtain hay for horse people, or convert from cattle farming to horses and have to rethink bzgl. Cutting time, storage and quality.
Horse owners want to pay as little money as possible, so no farmer can be blamed if he doesn't spend days worrying about the hay he wants to sell.
Agriculture is basically a lot of work, but our food comes from the supermarket, the muesli for the horses is in a colorful bag, which is why the consumer's understanding of the production of food and feed is often not far off. I believe that a fundamental sense of the importance of the quality of basic feeds needs to be developed here – by the producer and by the consumer.
However, all this is of no use if the weather is simply lousy, as it has been the last two years.
Hint: At the end of the post you will find a link to the blog of Animal Inhalation with many texts I have already written on the subject of coughing in horses, dusty hay, etc. have written.
Coughing in horses: increased production of mucus, reduced elimination of mucus
Why is coughing in horses so dangerous?
The Horse lung is a huge organ, which is designed to absorb large amounts of oxygen during sudden flight. When the horse eats at rest, the lungs are not ventilated to the last nook and cranny and therefore the blood supply is not as strong as when galloping.
Through a infection or constant exposure to dust, increased mucus from the bronchial tube is producedmucus is produced. This mucus is supposed to transport germs and dust with it to the outside (the ciliated epithelium of the mucous membrane constantly pushes everything to the outside).
If it becomes too slimy, the transport no longer works and the mucus gets stuck as a plug in front of the small bronchioles. Now, when deep breathing suddenly occurs, the mucus slides further down, even in areas that are not so much needed at rest.
At exhale then alveoli at the edge of the lungs can become blocked. the horse has to push very hard to get the air out of it. In the worst case, this can cause isolated pulmonary alveoli to burst.
The bronchial mucosa is an enormously large area. The mucus it produces is constantly transported to the outside with the help of the ciliated epithelium on the surface of the mucosa – and with the mucus, all inhaled particles and bacteria.
Through inflammatory processes due to an infection or constant irritation this transport does not work well anymore, the cilia get broken. It begins a Vicious circle: mucus is produced more to get rid of the "dirt". But this gets stuck. Disease-causing germs now have an easy time sliding down into the depths of the airways, inflammation increases, mucus clogs the deep airways, exhalation becomes increasingly difficult, the horse coughs, the mucous membranes become irritated…
The immune system is eventually overwhelmed with the care of this large area, it really fights against windmills – allergies or allergy-like conditions develop, the horse reacts to everything and everyone … (In fact, I often see in cough horses either bad mood and grumpiness or a kind of depression or resignation – holistically-homeopathically, this fits together very well for me).
Is a cough the same or are there differences?? Coughing can of course have different causes. Different sections of the respiratory tract can be affected. A slight irritation of the larynx manifests itself in a cough, which is comparatively harmless in contrast to a chronic cough. For chronic cough in horses, we have a number of neat abbreviations, some of which mean the same thing, but some of which are intended to be more precise determinations of coughing.
COB – chronic obstructive bronchitis – is the "generic term" used in German literature for chronic coughing. Obstructive means closed, narrowed, displaced, blocked (from the outside we cannot see exactly what the problem is). COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – comes from human medicine and means the same thing (although here the term is more in depth, from the bronchial tubes to the lungs). In the English literature, the term "equine asthma" (equine asthma) has been introduced, although equine asthma is a bit different from human asthma when viewed under a microscope. But the horse and owner don't care, and from the outside it looks very similar – the horse has respiratory distress, and that's terrible. For some time now, a distinction has been made according to severity. IAD – inflammatory airway disease – is the rather milder condition, i.e. the better stages of an "asthma horse". If you were to take samples from all the horses in a barn in the winter, according to the cells found, almost all of them would probably have "IAD" without anything being noticed. If horses do not have nasal discharge and cough, there does not seem to be much risk of "IAD" developing into "RAO" as far as we know at the moment. RAO – recurrent airway obstruction – is the moderate to severe, poor condition of COB. In these horses you can find all symptoms of chronic coughing more or less strong. There is supposed to be a genetic component to this condition – according to this, it is better not to breed with coughing horses…
Addition by Karolina in October 2021: In the meantime, chronic coughing in horses is called equine asthma and the different names that are still used all fall under it.
Not all coughs are chronic: horses can also catch a cold
For example, horses can catch a cold and cough, just as we humans do?
Yes, this also happens in horses – just like in humans, there are viruses that are not more precisely defined, which can cause under certain circumstances a kind of cold can cause. Most of the time you don't notice these viruses at all. It is always said that horses, due to their sensitive respiratory tract, more easily develop bronchitis than people get. I mean, it's a matter of constitution (and environmental conditions). There are also people who react to every infection with a serious bronchitis or even develop pneumonia, while others only have a cold or cough briefly because it is scratchy in the throat.
(Explanation: constitution: innate and acquired characteristics of the whole organism)
All important information about cough in horses prevention and treatment
If the horse coughs, immediately investigate the cause
What can and should I do when I hear that my horse is coughing?
Do not panic, but immediately go on cause research.
Has the horse just developedswallowed a blade of grass, because it runs off chewing? This should not happen, but it can. If it coughs while rolling in the dust? We would probably also cough, but still observe whether this happens every time or is rather an exception. Not every horse coughs when rolling in the dust (whether this is good or bad is not entirely clear, because coughing is also a protective reflex to get rid of the dust immediately). Does it bump regularly when trotting?? This needs to be monitored more closely, and I would recommend investigation. A blockage or an ill-fitting saddle can also be the cause here. cough even more horses in the stable? Then treat consistently, observe, strengthen immune system.
In the case of a cough, it is better to call the vet sooner rather than later.
Treat the cough: expectorant, cortisone, inhalation, homeopathy and co
What does a typical treatment of coughing horses look like??
Unfortunately, the possibilities of conventional medicine are limited (otherwise also …). After a thorough examination it will be decided whether a mucolytic is sufficient, or whether a Bronchodilator (Clenbuterol) must be given, so that the horse gets better air again. This is usually combined with an agent that makes the mucus more fluid.
When a horse real respiratory distress has, similar to an asthmatic attack with humans, must alone for animal protection reasons Cortisone come into play. Sometimes it is also decided to give cortisone daily for a while. These are then the severe cases.
Diagnostically should a bronchoscopy if the cough does not improve and it is unclear what the cause is. Here you can see if it is an allergic event, if pus cells and maybe even bacteria are involved, how badly the mucous membrane is inflamed, and what quality the mucus is. This is how you can assess whether an acute infection, IAD or RAO is present, taking into account the clinical symptoms. This may result in. further treatment steps. For example, a Antibiotic then used specifically and contribute to the healing.
More and more often the Inhalation recommended, which is actually a useful measure to loosen the mucus in the airways. Inhalation can be done simply with isotonic saline solution, or temporarily with cortisone (due to the local effect the necessary dosage is extremely low) and a bronchodilator. It makes most sense, an ultrasonic nebulizer built for horses to use, because so the aerosols in very small drops can be inhaled deeply. In the meantime, there are various veterinarians and animal healers who lend ultrasonic nebulizers for a few weeks.
All this is of no use if the horse has to inhale large amounts of dust every day. Optimization of the housing conditions is always in the foreground in case of coughing.
Tip: Since January 2020 I belong to the team of JSR GmbH. With our brand Animal Inhalation we offer you maskless inhalation concepts in the brine chamber or in the converted brine trailer. In addition to ready-made inhalation concepts (our basic package includes an ultrasonic nebulizer, ionized oxygen and a cold nebulizer for thorough disinfection), you can also get individual devices there, so that you can build a brine mobile or an inhalation box for your horse yourself with a little bit of craftsmanship! On our blog you will find various informative texts about horse cough. You will also find a construction manual for a brine chamber.
Do I have to use conventional medicine for horse cough or can I also achieve something homeopathically??
In acute infections with clear symptoms is the right homeopathic remedy usually faster than the available drugs. Problem is that you need symptoms that the owner can describe or. the homeopath can see (or hear). The information "the horse is coughing" is not enough.
– How does it cough, when, in which situation, when did it start, what was different, especially (for example storm from northeast)?? – Has the blacksmith been there? – Has there been a quarrel between the horses? How does the cough sound? (I once had a patient who unfortunately did not cough during the examination, but the owner was able to describe and demonstrate it very well. The next day the problem was solved, thanks to the right remedy🙂 ).
At chronic cough must in any case a complete medical history be made to find the right homeopathic remedy.
If the environmental conditions are bad, the best homeopathy is useless. IIf the lungs are already fundamentally damaged, homeopathy can improve the symptoms, but not cure them. In case of respiratory distress, immediate action must be taken for animal welfare reasons – a good homoeopath can, if the symptoms are clear, possibly treat the horse with a remedy. make a trial with a homeopathic remedy, which must then work within an hour. If it does not, possibly. Cortisone indicated. A horse with respiratory distress is an emergency – if the veterinarian does not happen to be a homeopath, then it is inappropriate to let time pass because you first call a homeopath and later the veterinarian.
Dust-free keeping and feeding and lots of exercise are the be-all and end-all for coughing horses
If I have a chronically coughing horse – what do you think I should look for as an owner in the husbandry and feeding??
Dusty posture and plenty of exercise. It is the owner's responsibility to exercise the horse – and it is generally true that the running animal horse must be exercised, because we cannot offer him the running distance he needs to stay healthy with the best possible husbandry.
With regard to Lung Health it is important that these regularly well ventilated that is, a horse should regularly have the opportunity for a extensive gallop have. Of course not in bad phases with much mucus production. Moderate exercise to loosen the mucus, nose to the ground to allow it to run off.
Coughing horses belong (just like all other horses) In the fresh air, not in the box. If stabling cannot be avoided, then it must be littered dust-free and should not be in the middle of the stable aisle or in the farthest corner, but airy.
Coughing horse: hay or haylage?
The roughage should be as low in dust as possible its. Hay can be moistened by adding an steamed – demonstrably the "Haygain" works best, but it is of course very expensive. Dip hay in water binds the dust and flushes it out to a large extent, but dipped hay is hygienically questionable. The contained germs, especially fungi, can multiply very quickly in the humidity. If the hay is bathed for too long, nutrients are also lost.
Should I rather feed haylage instead of hay?
haylage is much discussed, partly demonized in horse keeping. Whether haylage is tolerable for horses depends very much on the quality, and this can be judged roughly sensually only to a limited extent. Nevertheless haylage for chronic coughers usually the only practical solution, since, unlike hay, it is low in dust to dust-free. Ideally it would be to feed haylage only to 50% of the roughage, or perhaps phasewise, so that the lung can recover times. Basically, haylage must be fed for a few days, so that the intestinal flora can adjust to it – just like grazing. I am not a real friend of haylage, because it changes the intestinal flora, which can have a lot of consequences. But sometimes you have to choose between plague and cholera..
And what do you think about feeding special bronchial feed – after all, the feed industry offers lots of products especially for coughing horses?
Yes, the market is indeed very extensive and confusingch. In phases, one can gladly feed one or the other preparation, but not permanently, but at most in bad phases.
Most of the preparations are Herbal mixtureen dry or as a juice. Herbal combinations contain -. Here is the problem. If one feeds the same herbs permanently, it can be Intolerances come. The already very stressed immune system reacts with hypersensitivity to components of the herbs. Therefore, the rule is that one herb Do not feed longer than 6-8 weeks should.
It is essential to pay attention to the quality of herbs, and it is worth reading the small print of juices – often it is sugar water with a bit of herbal extract. In addition it is to be considered that Herbs different effects hay or haylage have – provided they are fed in effective doses. What is good for the lungs is not necessarily good for the stomach. Many horses have several problems (keyword constitution).
How to make life easier for your coughing horse
And how can I, as a horse owner, make life easier for my chronically coughing horse?
Plenty of exercise, adapted training depending on the situation and condition, avoid dusty riding halls. – A husbandry system with lots of fresh air, ie good open stable concept. Regular inhalation – an ultrasonic nebulizer should be used, which produces such small droplets that they reach deep into the lungs. It is worth thinking about investing in a good device of your own, then you can inhale daily or only 1-2x a week depending on your needs. Inhalation helps to liquefy the mucus. Gives relief to many horses. Support of the constitution through classical homeopathy. All other natural remedies can be helpful, too, but this is a matter of taste and may be necessary. it is necessary to try out what horse and human can cope with best. Not too much "Tuddelkram" with umpteen remedies. Apart from the fact that this is usually of little use, it is to the detriment of the actual relationship between man and horse.
I recommend a homeopathic constitutional treatment to strengthen and stabilize the organism as a whole. What I like most about it is that you do an elaborate anamnesis, then there is a remedy, and you let it work for a while. In the worst case, the homeopath will choose a Q-potency, where the remedy has to be administered once a day. So relatively little effort.
The Immune system can be treated with various remedies such as herbs or certain homeopathic complex preparations regularly supported so that common infections do not have such an easy game. It should be excluded that there are mechanical or even "mental" blockages that obstruct the lungs. These can come from the coughing itself, but can also come from completely different ends, z.B.