Does your horse cough?
If your horse coughs...
it could be a sign of a respiratory disease.
When endoscoped many horses that appear to be healthy (other than the coughing) are actually suffering from respiratory disease, which reduces their quality of life and performance.
Allergens, such as mold and fungal spores found in hay lead to respiratory disorders such as Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD) and Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO), also known as COPD.
Equine vet Stephanie Davis DVM explains:
"This is a simple question with a complex answer. First, you have to remember that a healthy horse rarely coughs. So if you notice a consistent cough, there is reason for concern. The most likely causes of a cough in an adult horse are viral respiratory tract infection, pharyngitis, an allergic respiratory disease (RAO or SPAOPD), pneumonia, IAD, and EIPH. With the threat of all of these illnesses, you should always consult your veterinarian if your horse develops a cough. It’s also beneficial to record when your horse coughs (e.g., during exercise, after feeding, etc.), as this can help direct the proper diagnosis."
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Equine vet Stephanie Davis DVM continues:
"The mainstay treatment for horses with RAO, SPAOPD, and IAD has always been to control the horse’s environment. This can be done by providing adequate turnout if the horse cannot continually be at pasture, using a low-dust bedding for the stall, and maintaining proper ventilation when the horse is stabled. Another effective way to control the quality of your horses’ environment is to steam their hay.
While there are many advantages to steaming hay, the most important in terms of staving off allergies is that steaming kills mold spores and eliminates dust in the hay, clearing the breathing zone during feeding of the dust and allergens that can cause serious respiratory disease."
A recent study found Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD) was present in 84% of horses*. The same study found, however, that steaming hay reduced the incidence of IAD by 63%.*
*Dr. Julie Dauvillier and Dr. Emmanuelle van Erck-Westergren, 2013, 2014