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Just Breathe – A Guide to Equine Asthma

What is Equine Asthma?

Equine Asthma is a chronic, allergen-mediated inflammatory condition of the lower airways. It is most often caused by hypersensitivity to inhaled substances from the environment, especially dust from hay and bedding.

While different severities of the condition exist, all horses with asthma have the same three components of the disease process of asthma, airway inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness, and airway remodeling.

What are common symptoms of Equine Asthma?

  • Poor performance or exercise intolerance
  • Coughing – at rest and or during work
  • Heavier or faster breathing than normal at rest
  • Flared nostrils
  • Wheezing
  • Nasal discharge

How do Veterinarians diagnose Equine Asthma?

Multiple diagnostic options are available, the 3 most common diagnostic options utilized are the following:

  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL)
  • Endoscopy
  • Response to a medication trial

How do we treat Equine Asthma?

While equine asthma is not a curable disease, it can be managed to provide an excellent quality of life to horses with this condition. Medications are used and can be administered orally or inhaled using a special device, known as a nebulizer. The best practice for equine asthma cases is to reduce allergens within their environment.

How do I reduce allergens within my horse’s environment?

  • Wet down or steam hay before feeding.
  • Use low dust bedding for horses that are stalled.
  • Turn out during stall and barn cleaning.
  • For horses most sensitive during hot and humid weather, keep stalled in a cool environment during the hottest part of the day and turn out overnight/during cooler parts of the day.

The veterinarians at EquidDoc are here to help you create the best diagnostic and treatment plan for your horses if you suspect they may have asthma. Call EquidDoc at 508-885-4205 or email office@equiddocvet.com if you have any questions or concerns regarding Equine Asthma.