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Horse Choke Aftercare

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  • Horse Choke Aftercare

    Hi! My horse, Lou, had a pretty bad episode of choke today. It was running from her nose and her mouth - the whole deal. she just could not get it out on her own. After calling several local vets and finding that no one was available, we trailed her to a vet. They put the tube down her nose and got it cleared out. I have been told to give her one gram of Bute morning and night and for all of her feed to be soaked. We just got home and she has been coughing. Is the cough an indication that something is wrong or could it just be from the irritation?

    Edit - My other concern is if she needs to be in her stall so I can make sure she isn't eating anything that isn't soaked. I know hay is a no-no for a few days, but if she is out to graze, would that be ok?
    Last edited by smidgelou21; Jun. 13, 2019, 06:27 PM.

  • #2
    Choke and tubing leaves them with a sore and inflamed throat. Coughing is not unusual. Keep close watch of her while she's eating for a few days, as long as everything is moving, it should be ok.
    Eta...the vet told you to watch for signs of aspiration pneumonia? Which would be coughing, raspy breathing, possibly a fever, droopy attitude and poor appetite.

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    • #3
      It could be from irritation, it could be from aspiration pneumonia. I would keep your vet updated each day with the severity and frequency of the cough, and if it gets worse at all be prepared to haul her right back in.
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      • #4
        Coughing can be normal in this situation. My horse had a couple bad chokes last fall. He had to be tubed as well. We gave banamine once daily for 3 days. For the first 2-3 days we fed his grain as a soupy, soupy mash. His throat was sore and he didn't want to drink, so we tried to get as much water into him as we could with the mashes. Ultimately, switching my horse's grain from TC Lite to TC Senior made the biggest difference. Something about the TC Lite didn't agree with him. He'd done fine previously on other pelleted grain. Soaked Senior has eliminated our choke problem with him (*knock on wood).

        Definitely keep an eye on temperature and attitude, and don't hesitate to contact your vet if something doesn't seem right to you. If you have access to pasture instead of hay for a few days, that couldn't hurt. Or soak hay before feeding. Jingles for your boy!

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post
          It could be from irritation, it could be from aspiration pneumonia. I would keep your vet updated each day with the severity and frequency of the cough, and if it gets worse at all be prepared to haul her right back in.
          How quickly does that set in? Would I be seeing signs of it this early in just a couple hours? The coughing seems to be worse while she is walking around.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by hank View Post
            Choke and tubing leaves them with a sore and inflamed throat. Coughing is not unusual. Keep close watch of her while she's eating for a few days, as long as everything is moving, it should be ok.
            Eta...the vet told you to watch for signs of aspiration pneumonia? Which would be coughing, raspy breathing, possibly a fever, droopy attitude and poor appetite.
            He said if she isn't doing well in 5 days, when I stop the Bute, to bring her back for him to take a look for pneumonia. Thank you for the information!

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            • #7
              I would be careful about letting him out to graze, especially for the next few days, and then again when he goes off the bute. The inflammation caused by the choke can make it far more likely that the horse will choke again on virtually anything that isn't wet down or soaked.
              "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Posting Trot View Post
                I would be careful about letting him out to graze, especially for the next few days, and then again when he goes off the bute. The inflammation caused by the choke can make it far more likely that the horse will choke again on virtually anything that isn't wet down or soaked.
                The vet instructions for every choke I've ever had to manage has been NO hay or grain (not even wet/soaked) for 1-2 days immediately following the choke, ONLY allowing grazing on grass and access to water.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by smidgelou21 View Post

                  How quickly does that set in? Would I be seeing signs of it this early in just a couple hours? The coughing seems to be worse while she is walking around.
                  As far as I know, it can develop in a few hours or up to 1-3 days or so.
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                  • #10
                    My gelding developed aspiration pneumonia after an episode of choke last year. Thankfully, we caught it early and he recovered, but he was never quite 100% again (more easily fatigued, not as much galloping around the pasture, etc) . A friend of mine lost her gelding to it just a few months later. After any future choke episode I may deal with, I am putting my horse on a precautionary round of antibiotics right off the bat. I am not willing to take a chance on pneumonia again.

                    We never saw my gelding choke, so I can't pinpoint a timeline on how long it took to develop, but I believe in the case of my friend's horse it was about a week or less. My gelding had an intermittent cough that worsened with exertion. He also had nasal discharge and a fever. I would be monitoring your gelding's temp at least twice a day. My fingers and toes are crossed that your horse!

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                    • #11
                      We've had a couple of chokes over the years. Our vet showed us how to use a hose to try to clear it on our own. Two times we've needed the vet out to tube. After any choke we followed this protocol:

                      no grain or hay for 1.5 days. Then soaked grain for a 3 days after that.
                      grass was okay
                      introduced hay at day 4, and wet it for first 2 days.

                      If the vet had to tube, we also did a precautionary round of abx.
                      A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...

                      http://elementfarm.blogspot.com/

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                      • #12
                        Agreed ElementFarm , my full instructions have been along the lines of:

                        1-2 days no hay or grain, grass grazing only.
                        Bute for three days.
                        If tubed, antibiotics for seven days.
                        Day 3: Introduce soupy grain and/or hay pellets (not cubes) for three days, still only grass no hay.
                        Day 6: Introduce hay a little at a time, starting with one flake per day, increasing up to full load over about a week.

                        I find it really interesting when vets have a wildly different approach to something.

                        I just had a thought - I wonder how it would be handled in somewhere like parts of California that don't have grass. Perhaps just soupy hay pellets or soupy complete feed for the first couple days?
                        Custom tack racks!
                        www.mmeqcenter.com/tacklove.html

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                        • #13
                          We had a mare choke at my barn. She coughed and coughed and coughed. The vet looked at her twice since the choke, and believed she had damaged something while choking. She received honey water squirted down her throat I think twice a day, and she coughed a long while. Months. They started wetting her hay and she doesn't cough anymore. They discontinued the honey water as well.

                          I am assuming whatever trauma was there has healed, but it did take a while -- and I think the pokey hay was making it worse.

                          Certainly do monitor her temperature and vitals. Then you'll know if it is something to really worry about!

                          Hope she's all right!

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            mmeqcenter ElementFarm CowgirlCoffee Thank you all for the responses and information. Here is an update - she was not eating her very very soupy grain last night, but today she ate it (slightly less watery) with no problems. Last night she had a cough, but today it seems to be a little less. She is clearing her nose quite a bit, but I think that's because some of the dried snot/saliva was in her nostrils. Now, the big problem is that she is not drinking water. I have tried molasses and later will try apple juice or gatorade. She had a little bit of grass and just that one feed serving that had some water in it and some electrolytes. Is this normal for a horse after choking due to irritation or is this a sign of aspiration pneumonia? I am going to take her temp in a bit, but she has no raspy breathing, is alert, and has a big appetite.

                            My other question is about the antibiotics. I agree that she should be on a precautionary round of them just in case. The only thing the vet gave us was a Bute paste for the inflammation. Since he is over an hour away and I currently do not have my trailer, I would have to borrow my trainer's and it would be a big pain to get her back over there. Would I be able to just drive over there without the horse and get some from him? I know I would have to call and ask, but do they ever prescribe antibiotics over the phone/without seeing the horse? Would I need to try get a local vet out to see if they could prescribe some? Thank you!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Honestly the symptoms for aspiration pneumonia vary and you need to talk to your vet about your specific horse and it's current condition, there's only so much help the internet can provide. Absolutely she could be not interested in her feed and even water just because she's a bit uncomfortable with irritation, or it could be because an infection is setting in.

                              Yes, your vet most likely will allow you to go pick up a bottle of antibiotics without towing your horse with you. I keep antibiotics (SMZs), antihistamines (Hydroxyzine HCl), Bute, Banamine, Dexamethasone injection, and Acepromazine injection or Xylazine (which I have at the moment) on hand. When I run out, if I don't have any other need for a veterinary visit, I just call my vet and she sends the office a note that I'll be by to pick it up.
                              Custom tack racks!
                              www.mmeqcenter.com/tacklove.html

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                smidgelou21 You should be able to ring your vet and ask for antibiotics. It shouldn't be an issue to drive over there and grab them. As long as they agree with doing it, that is. I'd work with the treating vet, or whatever vet you have good rapport with.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  My other question is about the antibiotics. I agree that she should be on a precautionary round of them just in case. The only thing the vet gave us was a Bute paste for the inflammation. Since he is over an hour away and I currently do not have my trailer, I would have to borrow my trainer's and it would be a big pain to get her back over there. Would I be able to just drive over there without the horse and get some from him? I know I would have to call and ask, but do they ever prescribe antibiotics over the phone/without seeing the horse? Would I need to try get a local vet out to see if they could prescribe some? Thank you!!!
                                  The vet should definitely be able to Rx antibiotics without seeing the horse again. You could also try to find a local vet who'd sell you some based on your description of the incident, or at the very least, after a phonecon with your vet, so you don't to drive an hour just to pick up some pills.

                                  I'm not sure where OP is from, and I know not everyone is lucky enough to live in communities with 3-4 good equine vets within 20 mins. But horses get hurt or sick with enough frequency, I'd try to build a relationship with a vet closer to you, even if it's just for routine care, and you'd go farther away for more complicated diagnostics. But an hour+ is a long time in the life of a bad colic...

                                  And I second mmeqcenter , it's a good idea to have SMZs, Bute, Banamine, Dex, and Ace on hand, as well as basic vet supplies (thermometer, vet wrap, rolled cotton, etc).

                                  OP, if your mare isn't drinking, try adding some loose mineral salt to her grain soup.
                                  A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...

                                  http://elementfarm.blogspot.com/

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                                  • #18
                                    Agree with the preceding. My vet will overnight meds to me. I'd definitely start electrolytes for her and continue to monitor her drinking. We have one guy. We call him Sir Chokes A Lot. He no longer gets pellets. He gets alfalfa broken up and Senior and carrots chopped small. Between the choking and the tubing - her throat is sore. I don't know if antibiotics are in order for aspirating pneumonia. It's material that goes in their lungs when they choke. Not a bacterial infection. I guess as a preventative. It sounds like she's recovering. It does take a while.

                                    Tip from my vet: The various meds suggested to you are good beyond their expiration date. You can keep them several years beyond the date. But, not antibiotics. You need to replace them if they hit their expiration date.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by TCA Arabians View Post
                                      I don't know if antibiotics are in order for aspirating pneumonia. It's material that goes in their lungs when they choke. Not a bacterial infection. I guess as a preventative. It sounds like she's recovering. It does take a while.

                                      Tip from my vet: The various meds suggested to you are good beyond their expiration date. You can keep them several years beyond the date. But, not antibiotics. You need to replace them if they hit their expiration date.
                                      The definition of pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs. Aspiration just refers to the method by it was caused. Aspirating foreign materials causes damage to the lung(s) and allows bacteria to infect the damaged tissue. As opposed to, say, contracting a virus. Non-infectious lung inflammation (also possible from aspiration) is called chemical pneumonitis, not pneumonia.

                                      As a chemist, I'll disagree with your vet's blanket statement that antibiotics must be replaced after their expiration date. It's generally considered that most solid-form (tablets, capsules with powder inside, powder, etc.) medications, including antibiotics, are safe and effective to use for several years after their expiration date, though may lose some potency.
                                      Last edited by mmeqcenter; Jun. 14, 2019, 02:54 PM.
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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Hi everyone, thank you again for all the replies. I definitely need to stock up with the varying meds you've mentioned.

                                        She slurped down her food and has started drinking! Her temp (99.8) and heart rate (32 bmp) is good and her gums are pink. No more coughing, but she has some "sneezing fits" (blowing her nose repeatedly) every once in a while. My local vet was here today to do her coggins as it needed to be done anyway so I asked her about it and she said that it might last a couple days and is common due to the irritation of having the tube down her nose. As for antibiotics, we called the emergency vet we took her to and he gave her an antibiotic injection that will be in her system for 4 days so unless she starts developing signs of aspiration pneumonia, there is no need for a precautionary round of them. Thank you all again for the advice and information, it helps to hear people's past experiences while waiting to hear from the vet!

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