Help coughing in horses

When the horse coughs, it causes concern for many horse owners. Because behind it is often an infection or a burden on the respiratory tract due to errors in the attitude or in feeding. Why coughing always requires action, how to get to the bottom of the causes, what treatment looks like when the horse coughs and how to keep the horse's respiratory system fit, you will learn in this guidebook.

Horse cough is an attempt of the horse to get rid of mucus.

Causes of coughing in horses

The causes of coughing in horses are extremely varied. And sometimes it takes real detective work to find the trigger or triggers. This work is not only worthwhile, it is essential, because what starts as a mild cough can develop into a serious problem if left untreated. Respiratory disease in horses is common. And are usually triggered by the following causes:

– Infection with viruses, bacteria or fungi – Asthma, allergies – Poor quality feed – Poor housing conditions

Why do horses cough?

Coughing is a protective reflex: by coughing, the horse's body tries to get rid of mucus so that it does not accumulate in the lungs. According to this, coughing is a good sign – namely that the protective reflex is working (unfortunately, there are also horses that do not cough despite respiratory disease!) on the other hand also an alarm signal. Because coughing also means that the respiratory tract is irritated and there is an increased production of mucus. It is therefore important to find out the cause of the cough as quickly as possible. Because when mucus gets stuck in the bronchial tubes, it makes breathing more difficult and impairs the horse's performance and general well-being. Only if the cause can be found and stopped as early as possible, it is possible to avoid irreparable damage and chronic coughs. So, if a cough occurs in your horse, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible!

Horse cough checklist

– If the horse has a fever? – If the horse has nasal discharge? – If the lymph nodes are swollen? – Does the horse still have appetite? – When and in what situation does the horse cough? – If the symptoms worsen over time? – If the cough sounds moist or dry?

Based on the above factors, you can get to the bottom of the cause of the cough with the help of the veterinarian. If the horse has a fever, nasal discharge, is dull or lacks appetite, or if the lymph nodes are swollen, this may indicate a bacterial or viral infection.

Even if the horse coughs regardless of whether it is outside or in the stall, i.e. coughs in any "living situation", regardless of external conditions, this can indicate an infection.

Possible Respiratory are thereby u.a.:

– Chronic obstructive bronchitis (COB/COPD) – Rhinopneumonitis – Influenza – Herpes – Druse

These and other conditions accompanied by coughing, among others, can be identified by the veterinarian and treated accordingly. Tumors, abscesses or circumferential proliferation of the air sacs can also trigger coughing in horses. At the veterinarian or equine clinic, depending on the suspicion, an endoscopy, X-ray, ultrasound (sonography) or a blood gas analysis are used to get to the bottom of respiratory diseases.

In addition, different medications are used for treatment.


Inhibits the growth of bacteria and kills them.


Has an anti-inflammatory and decongestant effect and reduces mucus production.


Facilitate the removal of mucus from the respiratory tract.


Are used for allergies or cramped airways.

Alternative healing methods such as homeopathy, acupuncture, inhalation or the administration of herbs are also used in the treatment of cough diseases in horses.

Identify cause of cough by sound Listen: does cough sound dry? Then this may indicate a chesty cough or a viral infection. Deep moist cough may indicate a bacterial infection.

Horse cough due to the attitude

Much more frequently than respiratory infections, however, incorrect housing conditions are the cause of coughing. These include:

– Mold contamination of the feed – Dusty bedding or hay – High ammonia content of the air in the stable (lack of hygiene) – High humidity in the stable – Too little exercise – Weak immune system due to too little exercise and fresh air

The respiratory tract of horses is very sensitive. Sometimes one of the above is enough to put them out of balance, sometimes several factors come together, which then manifest themselves in coughing. If the respiratory tract is already irritated by dust exposure, for example, or if the immune system is weakened due to improper husbandry, the horse is more susceptible to infectious diseases of the respiratory tract.

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