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Causes of coughing in horses

Coughing in horses may be triggered by a variety of factors.

Is your horse dealing with a worrisome cough? Whether in the stable, barn or pasture, hearing a horse cough is never a welcomed sign. Similar to humans, coughing in horses is the body’s way of removing foreign materials or mucous from the lungs or upper airway passages. Coughing may also occur as a reaction to irritants. A chronic cough in horses is a common problem, but it’s difficult to diagnose. Either way, it’s important to get to the bottom of the cause.

A thorough exam is usually warranted when a horse has a cough. Consult with your vet to pinpoint the problem so more serious causes can be eliminated. Temperature, examination of the throat, auscultation of heart and lungs, and a look at the hay is necessary.

Here are some of the factors underlying coughs in horses:

Bacterial infection: An intermittent wet cough is typically accompanied by noticeable, thick nasal discharge, fever and loss of appetite. Horses with a bacterial infection may have enlarged lymph nodes under the jaw.

Cold weather: Some horses begin coughing when exercising in cold weather. If trainers find this problem happens too frequently, it’s best to talk with a vet.

Dust-induced: Also called arena cough, dust-induced coughing received its name became it occurs only when a horse is in the arena. Elsewhere, the horse appears to be fine. This cough is most common during the winter.

Foreign object: Horses with an object lodged in the larynx or farther down emit an odd, non-resolving cough while holding its head or neck in a strange position. The object could be dislodged with coughing, but veterinary intervention may be necessary.

Inflammatory airway disease (IAD): Inflammatory airway disease is one of the most common conditions inhibiting horse performance and should be monitored closely. A horse that has been exhibiting a recurring cough or increased nasal discharge may be suffering from IAD.

Lungworms: Although these are not common, it’s better to be safe than sorry. This type of cough, which is more common in donkeys and horses pastured with donkeys, is characterized by coughing worsened by exercise.

Warm-up cough: This warm-up cough is likely caused by mucous accumulation and occurs when a horse is preparing for exercise. If this is the case, the horse is likely fine, but take action if the cough lingers or worsens.

Viral infection: Many times a frequent dry cough is accompanied by watery nasal discharge, lethargy, fever and/or loss of appetite.

Air Power™ is an all-natural aid in the relief of minor coughs due to irritation.

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