Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions, Equine Guelph
Have you ever walked in a barn, and felt like your lungs were being assaulted? Imagine how a horse feels, particularly if they spend hours in a stall. When horses exercise, they take on upwards of 16 times as much air per second than their human owners. Their lung capacity is enormous, as are their athletic capabilities, unless they are compromised by environmental factors. Much can be done from a management standpoint to minimize dust and harmful particulates in a horse’s environment while maximizing athletic function and general comfort in the process.
Even a horse not exhibiting signs of breathing issues may be under assault from airborne particles. Every effort should be taken to minimize dust to practice prevention of irreversible breathing issues.
The Culprits We Can Control
Have a look at Equine Guelph’s Defend Against Dust fact sheet.
Also check out this awesome infographic shared by our sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim.
Signs of Equine Asthma
Dr. Dorothee Bienzle illustrates signs of heaves/asthma in this video.
Why Practice Diligent Prevention?
Irreversible damage can be done by the cumulative effect from years of exposure to dust, mold and other particulate matter.
If a horse is coughing and asthma is suspected, the veterinarian will be looking closely at the horse’s environment to determine what is causing the irritation in the lungs. They will be looking at all potential causes which could include: dusty environments, smoke inhalation, pollen or other allergens and particles in the pasture or hay.
Don’t wait for your horse to start coughing to practice prevention. If your horse begins to cough, call the vet right away to investigate the cause. When dealing with respiratory ailments early diagnostics, aggressive treatment and environmental management are of paramount importance.
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Learn more about maintaining a healthy environment for your horse with the next online offering of Equine Guelph’s Management of the Equine Environment course.