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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 14, 2012
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    Kansas City, MO
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    25

    Default Post-choke care?

    My 24 year old Quarter mare choked today for the first time in the 21 years I've owned her. She was mid-way through her Triple Crown Senior, stopped eating, sounded like she had the hiccups, then started gurgling, sort of. The gurgling progressed to coughing, projectile spitting/hacking of phlegm, drainage from the nose, sweating and generally distressed looking. Breathing a bit hard but according to other boarders who were there at the time, a relatively mild choke. The vet came (not our regular vet, who couldn't be reached after several calls, but that's another issue) and tubed her, extracting a good quantity of grain particles. He was satisfied the blockage was cleared and said she could go back out to pasture, but no grain for 24 hours and to soak it from now on. He did give her a shot of Banamine. I asked about aspiration pneumonia and gas colic (she seemed like she was gulping a lot, so I was concerned about her taking in a lot of air). He didn't seem concerned about colic at all, and just told me to keep an eye out for a fever or other NQR behaviours; we will start her on antibiotics if anything turns up.

    This was my first choke; I've never seen it before, let alone dealt with it. My question is this: How common is it for a choking episode to cause something else? Is it likely she will get an infection of some sort and require antibiotics? Have any of you ever had a colic following a choke? Is there something else I haven't thought of that I should panic about instead? I know
    that once they do choke, it's more likely to happen again, so I will definitely be soaking her grain and giving it in a bigger tub with rocks from now on.

    In case anyone needs to know, she's UTD on all shots and had her teeth floated a week ago. She is missing a right upper molar, so she's floated 2x a year. She's on 24 hour turnout with several other mares on ~14 acres, with free-choice round bales. She gets 4 pounds of Triple Crown Senior with 1 pound of Triple Crown 30% and her Cosequin once a day. Other than this, she is in fabulous condition for her age. Any advice would be appreciated!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2008
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    now in KCMO, and plan to stay there
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    3,040

    Default

    When my mare had a bad choke episode not quite two years ago, the Vet said no hay for 3 days, to feed only soupy Purina Senior.
    She has been back to eating regular hay and grain ever since, BTW.
    Last edited by sdlbredfan; Apr. 7, 2013 at 05:09 PM. Reason: typo
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 17, 2008
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    609

    Default

    My one Tb gelding has choked probably 3 times over the 6 years I've owned him...the first time was after eating dry alfalfa pellets, the next times were with eating really soft fresh second cutting orchard grass hay...gulped a big clump down I guess....he was very stressed, he'd paw frantically, gag, choke etc, then roll and moan and groan-it was awful to watch....he was so distressed the time he then got cast in the stall...vet came out gave him a mild sedative, some Banamine and a shot of Penicillin or that long last Antibiotic Excede in case of aspiration ....we wet his hay for few days, then he went back to normal



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 14, 2012
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    Kansas City, MO
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    Default

    I'm glad to know it doesn't seem likely to cause a cascade of Very Bad Things. Will definitely be keeping a close eye on her for the next few days. Thanks for the insight!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2001
    Location
    Fort Collins, CO
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    Default

    Choke sucks. Sometimes horses just choke. Sometimes it IS an indicator that something else is wrong--first place I'd look harder in an aged horse is the mouth, especially since someone was in there recently. Can your vet come back out and make sure there's nothing amiss there?

    I would also be a little concerned with your vet's requests re: feeding her right now. SOP, as far as I know, is NO HAY for at least a few days. Up to a week. Soaked senior ONLY. This allows the esophagus to heal and the inflammation from the choke to reduce. The risk of dry feed directly after a choke is that the esophagus has been abraded and will swell...drastically increasing the risk of choke for the several days following a choke episode. You want something nice and slippery and non-offensive going down there for a little while.

    If the horse continues to choke, bloodwork and a scope is warranted. I had a filly choke repeatedly last summer, culminating is a very severe choke in November. Turns out she had an internal pigeon fever abscess (or bastard strangles, maybe) that was pressing on and narrowing her esophagus. The choke was the very first sign that we had that there was anything wrong with her at all. She's fine now, after a long course of some very heavy hitter antibiotics, but it is a good example of how choke can be indicative of something bigger.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2005
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    Northeast
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    Default

    Years ago, I had a friend who insisted on putting apples in the feed bin. I horse would choke. Of course as the vet drove in, it would clear. til the next time. In these cases there was no special handling, or feeding. Finally she got a clue, and stopped leaving apples.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 17, 2008
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    Dutchess County, New York
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    I have had a few horses choke here. It is standard for our vets to say no hay for the 1st 24 hours, and to give bute to help with the inflammation as well as SMZ's as a precaution, to prevent aspiration pneumonia.

    You should soak your horse's grain going forward. I've had enough horses choke here that I just routinely soak all the horses' feed now, for every meal.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 29, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMF11 View Post
    I have had a few horses choke here. It is standard for our vets to say no hay for the 1st 24 hours, and to give bute to help with the inflammation as well as SMZ's as a precaution, to prevent aspiration pneumonia.

    You should soak your horse's grain going forward. I've had enough horses choke here that I just routinely soak all the horses' feed now, for every meal.
    This similar to my experiences also.

    The difference is that we would just do a 5 day prophylactic course of SMZ's without any bute.

    Also, when we start hay again, we will only feed soaked hay, and we do that for about a week before feeding any dry hay again.

    We use ground pan type feeders for any horse with a history of choke because of our belief in the theory that when a horse swallows in a natural head down position, they are less likely to choke.

    And of course, for the choke prone horse, all concentrates are watered down to a pourable constancy before feeding.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2003
    Location
    VT
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    639

    Default

    I've had a bunch of horses choke on the Triple Crown products with the dried beet pulp in them (I even had 5 mares choke at the SAME time once). I soaked their feed for a couple days and then switched them to a different type of grain and never had another problem (with no further soaking).



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 14, 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, MO
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    Default

    I have Banamine paste on hand - should I continue to give that for a couple of days to help keep the inflammation down? Also sounds like I should pull her off pasture/hay. Will be calling the regular vet in the morning to get his take on this (as well as express concern that I wasn't able to reach him for an emergency when his clinic offers emergency call - 45 minute lag time is unacceptable, IMO). Thanks, everyone, for the advice; it is much appreciated!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 14, 2012
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    Kansas City, MO
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    Default

    Ticofuzzy - She was on Nutrena Senior previously with no problem; today was her third day on the Triple Crown. Interesting info., I will do some further investigation. Thanks!



  12. #12
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    Jan. 17, 2008
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    Dutchess County, New York
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    I've asked my vet this question -- is there a feed that horses are less likely to choke on. And her answer was "no". A search on COTH turned up the same answer. So again, I just dunk all the horses' nosebags in a muck tub of water for five minutes or so before feeding.



  13. #13
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    Apr. 14, 2001
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    Fort Collins, CO
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMF11 View Post
    I've asked my vet this question -- is there a feed that horses are less likely to choke on. And her answer was "no". A search on COTH turned up the same answer. So again, I just dunk all the horses' nosebags in a muck tub of water for five minutes or so before feeding.
    I've never seen a horse choke on straight grain, so I've got my filly on a dry (no molasses) COB mix. She really needs very little of anything, so it works just fine for her. Since we've resolved the cause behind her chokes, she should not have any further issues, but I won't feed her a pelleted grain product again without soaking it.

    SpicyMolly, I would wait to talk to your vet about the banamine. I would pull the horse off of hay and only offer a soaked to mush senior or complete feed. And make SURE there are no swollen, hard bits in it before you offer it--make sure it's completely soaked. I found boiling water very useful when I was feeding soaked stuff.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2003
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    VT
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    I have 40-50 horses on my farm and I've had the farm for 16 years and had never even seen a choke until I started feeding Triple Crown Growth. I had 8 chokes in one month, culminating with 5 mares choking all at once about 2 minutes after giving them grain (fed on the ground). The only other time since then that I have seen a choke was when one of my boarders tried to feed her horse alfalfa pellets or cubes (2 separate occasions, choked both times).

    I'm sure a horse CAN choke on most any type of feed but I do believe that there are certain types of feeds that are more prone to causing choke. IME, feeds with dry beet pulp in them were a problem. I switched my broodmares/foals to a pelleted ration balancer and have had no more problems.

    OP, if your mare has been fine and you recently switched feeds, I'd take a good, hard look at the feed....



  15. #15

    Default

    Some grains are notorious for causing choke. My horse choked twice before I bought her. Her previous owners fed her senior grain and did not soak it. The thing that worried me is that each choke episode causes scar tissue in the esophagus so multiple episodes may really close things up in there. She now gets her grain soaked to the max; I'm talking 2-3 gallons in her lunch and PM grain (she eats mostly beet pulp). She doesn't get her AM grain soaked but that's really just a handful of grain, a handful of amplify, and her supplements. I am lucky that she's a little piggy and will eat her meal no matter how much I've soaked it.



  16. #16
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    Dec. 14, 2012
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    Kansas City, MO
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    Default

    Starhouse - Definitely concerned about building scar tissue and having repeat incidents. Plus, I don't ever want to see that again - hands down, the scariest horse-related thing I've ever seen! I thought she was going to stop breathing and drop in front of me...

    I do think it's interesting that the first time it's happened was the third day on a new grain. She's been on a senior formula, dry, for years prior to this and never had an issue, so it's a correlation I'm curious about. I'm by no means ready to blame the Triple Crown, though. I'm at least going to finish the two bags I just bought (and transitioned her over to) before I make a decision.

    Thanks again to everyone for the feedback and war stories! I checked on her this morning and she seems totally fine - bright, alert and looking for nums like always. Ate her "soup" like a champ, and a little put out that she didn't get to go out for hay and grass with her girlfriends. Hopefully, she continues to behave normally and it won't be an issue again.



  17. #17
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    Dec. 14, 2012
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    Kansas City, MO
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    Starhouse - Definitely concerned about building scar tissue and having repeat incidents. Plus, I don't ever want to see that again - hands down, the scariest horse-related thing I've ever seen! I thought she was going to stop breathing and drop in front of me...

    I do think it's interesting that the first time it's happened was the third day on a new grain. She's been on a senior formula, dry, for years prior to this and never had an issue, so it's a correlation I'm curious about. I'm by no means ready to blame the Triple Crown, though. I'm at least going to finish the two bags I just bought (and transitioned her over to) before I make a decision.

    Thanks again to everyone for the feedback and war stories! I checked on her this morning and she seems totally fine - bright, alert and looking for nums like always. Ate her "soup" like a champ, and a little put out that she didn't get to go out for hay and grass with her girlfriends. Hopefully, she continues to behave normally and it won't be an issue again.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 1999
    Posts
    14,488

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    Horses are MUCH less likely to choke on sweet feed, and that is why most of the horses here are on it. I got tired of the occasional chokes. Now, we rarely get one, and if we do, it clears on its own in 15 to 30 minutes.

    All of the serious issues I have seen from choke was due to vet treatment, rather than just giving it some time to resolve. Passing the tubewill increase the likelihood of them to aspirate, and get pneumonia. It also can increase the probability of scar tissue.

    The horses here that have choked and were switched to sweet feed have not needed anything soaked, and have never choked again.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2001
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    Fort Collins, CO
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starhouse View Post
    The thing that worried me is that each choke episode causes scar tissue in the esophagus so multiple episodes may really close things up in there.
    Each choke episode has the potential to cause scar tissue, but it's not a forgone conclusion by any means. The worse a choke is, the more likely that scar tissue will form, and the more often a horse chokes, the more likely that scar tissue will form.

    A minor choke that lasts 30 minutes before the horse clears it on it's own, for example, is unlikely to cause scar tissue. If the choke is severe enough that the vet needs to come out and pass a tube, then you have a greater risk of scar tissue. If the choke is so severe that the horse has to be hauled to the hospital to have the choke bolus picked apart by the scope, then your chances go up even more. Basically--the larger assault to the esophagus, the larger chance you're going to get some damage.

    But it's entirely possibly to come out of a choke with no long term issues and zero scar tissue.



  20. #20
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    Nov. 29, 2008
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    I don't completely agree with the wait and see choke management philosophy because I have seen one case that led to a secondary lower repository infection due to aspiration of feed and saliva that required a stay at the clinic.

    Typically when a horse chokes, the vet instructs me to periodically gently massage the blockage in the esophagus while the vet is on the way. It usually takes the vet around an hour to arive. I feel that if the choke hasn't resolved on it's own in that time, then antispasmodic drugs and/or tubing are warranted.

    Obviously each decision rests with the owner and their vet.

    But I try to be a methodological thinker when assessing risk.

    So I see the downside risks first:
    Oesophageal Rupture

    Possibly fatal lung infection

    Formation of Oesophageal stricture

    I see the upside of interventive treatment as:
    Hopeful increased chance of resolving the issue quickly under veterinary guidance.

    Hopeful quicker resolution will result in fewer or no complications.

    But then I think we have excellent vets that we trust to give prudent advice, and preform any required tubing procedures expertly.

    So I guess I'm personally more comfortable calling the vet for any choke that hasn't resolved by itself relatively quickly. Where "relatively quickly" means: Whatever I think is most prudent given the details of the particular situation.



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