The best tips from the proMaybe you know this? You walk through the barn alley or sit comfortably on your horse during a trail ride. All of a sudden you hear this one nasty sound? That E-I-N-E scary sound that no horse owner wants to hear? Your horse coughs!
Everybody knows at least one other rider whose horse has a cough, and when the cough is there, it is often a protracted affair. That's why so many horse owners dread the thought of their horse coughing, especially in winter.
We keep our fingers crossed for you and your horse that you will never encounter the spectre of a cough. But because you can never know enough about horse health, we'll give you a clear summary of the topic of horses and coughs in winter.
– You get a list of possible causes – You get a detailed explanation of the anatomical peculiarities of the respiratory tract in horses in an expert interview – You get tips and advice from the biologist and horse health expert Sandra Lockener from , what you can do best in an emergency – You get information and tips on what you can do to keep your horse healthy. – In addition, you will get a personal case study and I will describe how I successfully got out of the coughing problem with my horse.
We start with the expert interview with the horse health expert Sandra Lockener of "vomkrankenzumgesundenpferd.de"
Horse whispering: not all coughs are the same – which “variants” of respiratory diseases are there??
Sandra Lockener: First of all, it is crucial for the therapy to differentiate between an acute and a chronic disease.
For the chronic illnesses different definitions exist in the science. The “Chronic Obstructive Bronchitis” (COB) resp. in English “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” (COPD) is considered the most common cause of chronically coughing horses in Western Europe.
In general, in equine medicine, the term refers to a disease complex characterized by chronic lung disease with narrowing of the airways.
The clinical picture of the disease shows up clinically sometimes very differently.
Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO) is a disease of the older horse characterized by recurrent bronchial obstruction that can be treated by postural improvement or bronchodilators.
All other forms of non-infectious chronic respiratory disease are grouped under the term “Inflammatory Airway Disease” (IAD).
Horse whispering: Are there typical symptoms for the different “cough diseases” – like 1.Dust allergy? 2.Asthma? 3.Acute bronchitis? 4.Chronic pulmonary insufficiency? 5.Dampness? 6.COBD?
Sandra Lockener: Unfortunately, a symptom usually does not allow the conclusion of the underlying disease so easily. The clinical examination is therefore sensibly done with assessment of the overall picture. A holistic examination of the horse includes various factors. Also interpreted external factors such as the housing conditions or the training management.
The biggest triggers of horse cough
Horse whispering: What are the biggest cough triggers??
Sandra Lockener: Dust, mold, mites, fungi, ammonia, and improper training are the biggest cough triggers in my experience.
Horse whispering: What can you do as a horse owner when the respiratory tract is diseased?? What treatment options are available?
Sandra Lockener: The owner of a horse with respiratory disease must first and foremost improve the horse's attitude. An acute infection must be treated by the veterinary surgeon that it can heal. For both acute and chronic complaints, the
Inhalation therapy provides relief.
But be careful! Here, too, you can do a lot wrong. Therefore, it should not be decided by the owner on his own how to inhale the horse, but a sound plan should be made by the therapist.
Horse whispering: A horse is a sophisticated organism – so if the horse coughs now and the cough is perhaps even chronic – I have to look at other organs that may not be doing their job properly and thus negatively affect the respiratory tract?
Sandra Lockener: Often in the course of the therapy of a respiratory disease, the treatment or support of other organs is necessary. For example, the liver and intestines are severely challenged by respiratory disease and often require analysis.
Very important: the psyche of the horse also suffers massively from the symptoms of a respiratory disease and must be strengthened in any case. In my treatment plans, the psyche of the horse is the main component of multifactorial therapy.
When to call the veterinarian for horse coughing
Horse whispering: When should you call the vet for a coughing horse??
Sandra Lockener: If the general condition of the horse is undisturbed and it shows no other symptoms such as fever or shortness of breath, the owner can observe his coughing horse well for 3 days.
If the cough gets worse, a veterinarian must be called immediately. If the symptoms do not change for three days, the veterinarian must be called after 3 days. In case of doubt, the horse owner should always ask the veterinarian for an assessment. Horse whispering: Many veterinarians like to recommend. Quickly the chemical hammer – but are there also good “alternative” medical tips? It depends on the disease. Must be assessed on a case by case basis. From my experience I can say: I have not yet had a horse for therapy that was damaged because the veterinarian treated it too quickly with “chemical hammers”.
But some horses that suffered damage from too late treatment. Personally, I would not wait long with my horses with a drug therapy if my veterinarian recommends it, because the risk of a carry-over would be too great for me. I think it is important to find a veterinarian you trust in case of emergency.