The coughing horse can be one of the most challenging things at times to quantify and identify the cause.
Knowing the cause is so important. Horse can cough for a number of reasons:
- Exercise Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage (EIPH- Bleeding)
- Inflammatory Airway Disease
Separating the cause can often involve some detective work. The first start is to perform an endoscope exam. I am pleased that now all horses undergoing an endoscopic exam with us we use a video-endoscope and record all images. The benefit of this is everyone can see the image and we can record it to view later.
Horses with obvious blood in their airways post exercise need a different management plan to those that have mucous.
Horses that are coughing and no other signs will need a Lungwash to assess the cells within the lungs and then a management plan can be started.
Assessing a coughing horse in this means can then lead to developing a management plan to treat the condition. Throwing antibiotics at horses to treat a cough is often a waste of time. This also leads to resistance developing to common antibiotics.
Management of horses with Inflammatory Airway Disease often consists of a combination of stable management changes and medical intervention.
Some examples of management changes would be the following:
- Dust free bedding
- Allowing access to the paddock during the day
- Soaking hay for 30mins and draining before feeding or using a hay steamer.
- Moving to a stable with a better airflow.
Simple changes to management can have a serious effect on the health of the respiratory system.