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New horse, possibly with copd

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    New horse, possibly with copd

    I've had him a month or two and he almost never coughs at the walk, but does cough when he trots.

    He's also either really out of shape and/or is having trouble getting enough air, and I'm thinking he may have some fairly low level copd. I'd like to be able to trot him more so would like to figure out how best to treat him. Haven't had the vet look at him yet, but am looking for advice on where to start with treatments. I'm thinking maybe I could start with an otc expectorant, to see if that helps? Has anyone tried those, and do they work?

    Because he doesn't cough except when he trots, I'd like to figure out what I could give him before he's ridden rather than keeping him on something all the time.

    I'm still doing mainly walk in the ring, but would like to move on to trot if I can prevent the coughing.

    #2
    I went through something similar with my gelding. Get the vet involved now. It ends up costing you much less in the long term to scope, assess symptoms and get an accurate diagnosis. I wish I’d had my guy scoped well before I did. He turned out to have low-grade heaves.

    Local vet initially recommended a trial of Robitussin but the expectorant only made the coughing worse. I tried every OTC supplement I could get my hands on, none of it made much of a difference. Post-scope with larger vet clinic, we ended up doing a taper course of dex and high dose Zyrtec (15 tabs/2x a day). These seemed to help tremendously. His symptoms seem to flare seasonally (much worse in the spring), so we think it might be partially allergy related. I keep both dex and Zyrtec on hand for when his symptoms flare up.

    Changes in management have been big too. We limit his stall time as much as we can (12 hours in at most). He gets his hay in a PortaGrazer to try to contain the dust (soaking didn’t seem to decrease coughing). Keeping him fit has been important too. I’ve found that pushing him for a short gallop on bad days can help open up his lungs and get him taking deeper breaths, which seems to bring him some relief.

    Currently he’s only on Equistro Secreta Pro Max, no other meds or supplements, and doing really well.

    jingles for your guy!

    ETA: AirPower by Finish Line is an OTC liquid supplement given by oral syringe before work. I had limited success with it. May be worth a try for you.

    Comment


      #3
      Is it only for a few strides or the entire time you trot?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Hayburner View Post
        Is it only for a few strides or the entire time you trot?
        I haven't trotted him for long enough to see if he might stop eventually, because my understanding is that the more they cough the more irritation/scar tissue. But the horse I was with was walking fast on the way home so mine had to keep trotting to catch up (on a long, gradual uphill) which made him breathe harder, which made him cough.

        It wasn't a constant cough, but it did persist intermittently until we got to the top and started downhill. So off and on for about 20 minutes, maybe one or two deep coughs every 2 to 3 minutes, and if it got less frequent during that time it wasn't by a lot.

        The coughing seems to be closely related to exertion, because I never hear him cough when he's just hanging out, and very seldom, if at all, when he's just walking.














        Comment


          #5
          Get him on meds from the vet NOW. This Summer my daughters mare started out with a random cough as she walked or at the trot when exercise began. I didn't think anything about it until I heard a slight wheeze to her normal breathing.

          I called the vet but he couldn't come out for a couple of days and since she wasn't in distress we were ok. I immediately started soaking her hay . The day he was scheduled to come they were running in the pasture and she could literally not catch her breath, sides heaving . Scared me to death and he moved things around to get there asap.

          She had her round of oral meds for 3 weeks and is now fine. I no longer have to soak her hay and her breathing is fine no matter how much she runs or when ridden. Her issues( we believe) were caused by grass/ clover mix hay and I make sure they don't get that any more.

          I watch her daily for reoccurrence but so far so good.

          Get a vet out now, they really need the meds for inflammation and to help the lungs heal.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Amy3996 View Post
            I went through something similar with my gelding. Get the vet involved now. It ends up costing you much less in the long term to scope, assess symptoms and get an accurate diagnosis. I wish I’d had my guy scoped well before I did. He turned out to have low-grade heaves.

            Local vet initially recommended a trial of Robitussin but the expectorant only made the coughing worse. I tried every OTC supplement I could get my hands on, none of it made much of a difference. Post-scope with larger vet clinic, we ended up doing a taper course of dex and high dose Zyrtec (15 tabs/2x a day). These seemed to help tremendously. His symptoms seem to flare seasonally (much worse in the spring), so we think it might be partially allergy related. I keep both dex and Zyrtec on hand for when his symptoms flare up.

            Changes in management have been big too. We limit his stall time as much as we can (12 hours in at most). He gets his hay in a PortaGrazer to try to contain the dust (soaking didn’t seem to decrease coughing). Keeping him fit has been important too. I’ve found that pushing him for a short gallop on bad days can help open up his lungs and get him taking deeper breaths, which seems to bring him some relief.

            Currently he’s only on Equistro Secreta Pro Max, no other meds or supplements, and doing really well.

            jingles for your guy!

            ETA: AirPower by Finish Line is an OTC liquid supplement given by oral syringe before work. I had limited success with it. May be worth a try for you.
            Thanks for this. The vet will be here in a few more weeks anyway, and I'd like to know more before I talk to her about options. This is an older, beginner safe (enough) horse, so if all he can do is walk then that's what we'll do with him. He's already living outside with a run-in and getting clean hay, but if the hay is the problem then soaking or steaming it is an option, as is a pelleted complete feed.

            Ideally, I'd like to be able to give him something to fix the coughing so we can trot, but I can keep him back and have my riding partner wait for us instead of trotting to catch up if we need to.
            ,

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by candyappy View Post
              Get him on meds from the vet NOW. This Summer my daughters mare started out with a random cough as she walked or at the trot when exercise began. I didn't think anything about it until I heard a slight wheeze to her normal breathing.

              I called the vet but he couldn't come out for a couple of days and since she wasn't in distress we were ok. I immediately started soaking her hay . The day he was scheduled to come they were running in the pasture and she could literally not catch her breath, sides heaving . Scared me to death and he moved things around to get there asap.

              She had her round of oral meds for 3 weeks and is now fine. I no longer have to soak her hay and her breathing is fine no matter how much she runs or when ridden. Her issues( we believe) were caused by grass/ clover mix hay and I make sure they don't get that any more.

              I watch her daily for reoccurrence but so far so good.

              Get a vet out now, they really need the meds for inflammation and to help the lungs heal.
              Do you know what she was given?

              The previous owner said that she had heard him cough in turnout and had asked her vet about it and she said it was probably because he was older, or something like that. I wasn't there so don't know what she said, but we use the same vet so I'll get more next time she comes.

              So the horse has had the cough for more than a couple of months, but because the previous owner wasn't riding she may not have been aware of how much he coughs when he trots?

              Comment


                #8
                I agree that a vet appointment is in order. You need to nip it in the bud before it becomes a bigger (and possibly permanent) problem. I've used the dex/zyrtec a couple of times and it worked well. I've used the OTC supplement Cough Free a couple of times too. Another product I like is Alpha Omega's Airwaves.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Coughing doesn't increase scar tissue. Leaving lungs inflamed, irritated and or full of crap increases scar tissue. Once lung tissue is scarred that lung capacity is gone for good. Expectorants merely increase irritation from coughing if there's no mucus to loosen and cough out.

                  ​​​​​​I have a horse with heaves. He has been on various drugs at various times as it flares up. He is worse in the summer and I monitor his breathing somewhat obsessively.

                  The only thing I use that I'd be willing to use on a new horse prior to the vet check is Alpha Omega's RespiFree which has a bronchodilator action.





                  Low dose Prednisolone can be enough in the early stages of the disease. It is a steroid and acts to reduce inflammation. My horse did well on it until we found he also has PPID. Steroid use on horses with PPID is to be avoided. Though I think we will end up there eventually as I expect his breathing will be the deciding factor at the end. Prednisolone is fairly inexpensive.

                  Antihistamines in the summer, along with exercise to open his airways, and RespiFree are his current management keys. Neither of these are cheap, but they're less expensive than his PPID drug. I check his breaths per minute rate, and listen to his lungs with a stethescope as well.

                  I keep Ventipulmin (bronchodilator - clenbuterol) on hand for flare ups. This is typically used at a higher dose for a few days, then half that for the same number of days, and sometimes half that again (1/4 the original dose) for that many days again. Ventipulmin is very expensive.

                  He has been on an expectorant when there is a build up of mucus in his lungs which could have become pneumonia if I hadn't caught it early (sometimes obsession pays off). These were short term treatments (2-3 weeks).
                  Last edited by RedHorses; Jan. 20, 2020, 08:06 PM.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    In addition to regular dex (not without it's hazards to be sure) and ventipulmin for the really bad days, I had my old gal on Histall-H. It's heavy in turmuric and seemed to help. Having a mister set up in her paddock helped during the heat of summer.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I have a horse with IAD (Inflammatory Airway Disease) / respiratory allergies. I had him scoped and it didn't look terrible, just some inflammation. No mucus. I also had an allergy test done and he is highly allergic to dust, mold, some grasses, and a few other things/plants. So it's crucial for him that his hay and environment is mold free. I also soak/wet his hay. This helps immensely.

                      When he has a flare up - coughs when starting work, or can tolerate walk, some trot, but coughs at the canter, I use a Flexineb. I out Pulmicort and Atrovent into it for inhalation. A steroid and brochodilator does the trick for him. I treat for 1 to 2 weeks daily before riding. I've used Dex before, and that was ok too. I will only use Dex in the nebulizer as the dose is very small and direct to the airway. This greatly lessens the laminitis risk that is associated with Dex.

                      I have used VentiPlus and other oral meds in the past that worked ok too. But the nebulizer is direct to the airway, he likes it, and I don't have to worry about putting stuff in his food, him eating it, etc. He does get a "bronchial" liquid during a flare up/winter - Equistro Sekrosan

                      He can go months on end without needing meds. He seems to struggle a bit more in the winter/this time of year. It's damp here, so there is probably some mold in the air or around.

                      But it is really important to take care of this now vs later. You do not want to deal with scars, as others mentioned.
                      ​​​​​
                      I think a good first step is soaking hay. A horse with COPD really can't have dry hay anyway. What is your bedding? Mostly dust free? Is the horse outside? It is best for them to be/live outside... Out of a more enclosed and dusty stable environment.

                      Exercise is good as fitness usually helps the condition.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by CanteringCarrot View Post
                        ​​​​​
                        I think a good first step is soaking hay. A horse with COPD really can't have dry hay anyway. What is your bedding? Mostly dust free? Is the horse outside? It is best for them to be/live outside... Out of a more enclosed and dusty stable environment.

                        Exercise is good as fitness usually helps the condition.
                        This doesn't seem like a flare up, but I haven't had him long enough to know. Previous owner isn't aware of any incidents that looked like a flare up, but she did hear him cough because she asked the vet about it. Same living conditions as here, except she put some of the hay in the run-in.

                        He's outside with a run-in, no bedding. He does walk work in the indoor twice a week and then a trail ride some weekends. It's cold here now and there's snow on the ground so any dust he's exposed to would be in the indoor or from his hay, which I'm going to start watering.

                        So inflammatory airway disease is different from copd? Guess I'd better look that up! Thanks!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Yes, you need the vet. But it’s probably not Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease like you see in humans after years of heavy smoking.

                          Have had a couple with chronic, seasonal coughing. Treated with anti histamines and Clenbuterol as needed. Not a problem most of the year. There’s pretty good symptom relief out there these days. But vet does need to look as some of the treatments can worsen underlying conditions and sometimes proper treatment clears it up permanently. There are some OTC remedies and supplements that purport to help ,or cure coughing but save your money until the vet looks to see what’s wrong so you don’t hurt instead of help.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by kande04 View Post

                            Do you know what she was given?

                            The previous owner said that she had heard him cough in turnout and had asked her vet about it and she said it was probably because he was older, or something like that. I wasn't there so don't know what she said, but we use the same vet so I'll get more next time she comes.

                            So the horse has had the cough for more than a couple of months, but because the previous owner wasn't riding she may not have been aware of how much he coughs when he trots?
                            DEXIUM ( which is dexamethasone) He just had me squirt it in her mouth once day for ( i think) 10 days. Then we went every other day and ended after 21 days if I remember right. Very easy treatment and she isn't great with her mouth.

                            I should add we never ride this mare hard. She gets worked regularly Spring-late Fall but we just pleasure ride . She does fine.

                            It may be dust induced, environmental, or just some irritation and not COPD, but I would advise a vet check to rule it out for peace of mind.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Scope first..

                              Changes in management are almost always needed.. Steaming or soaking hay, and keeping the horse's stalled time to an absolute minimum.
                              AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by kande04 View Post

                                So inflammatory airway disease is different from copd? Guess I'd better look that up! Thanks!
                                They now call it all “equine asthma”. I think this is a nice overview article. https://thehorse.com/19375/breathing...s-with-asthma/

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by kande04 View Post
                                  I've had him a month or two and he almost never coughs at the walk, but does cough when he trots.

                                  He's also either really out of shape and/or is having trouble getting enough air, and I'm thinking he may have some fairly low level copd. I'd like to be able to trot him more so would like to figure out how best to treat him. Haven't had the vet look at him yet, but am looking for advice on where to start with treatments. I'm thinking maybe I could start with an otc expectorant, to see if that helps? Has anyone tried those, and do they work?

                                  Because he doesn't cough except when he trots, I'd like to figure out what I could give him before he's ridden rather than keeping him on something all the time.

                                  I'm still doing mainly walk in the ring, but would like to move on to trot if I can prevent the coughing.
                                  I bought a horse that had been scoped previously and diagnosed as mild-ish COPD. Just a few things I've found out along the way.

                                  1. Fat is bad. The fatter she is, the more out of shape she is, the more panting there is. I now keep her super fit and keep her body weight down. I just go with the old standard of you should feel their ribs when standing but not see them, and see them a bit when they are moving/trotting.

                                  2. I put her on the SmartBreathe Ultra supplement as soon as I got her. I noticed an immediate improvement.

                                  3. My trainer has a nebulizer that we put just normal distilled water in to clear her airways prior to riding when it's particularly dusty or the allergens are really bad. It does help. I realize that's an expensive piece of equipment, but if there's one available it's a nice option to have.

                                  4. So far, I have not had to steam/soak hay etc. I do keep her on large flaked shavings, no straw and try to keep her stall nice and clean and as least dusty as possible for a barn.

                                  Best of luck!

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I started soaking his hay and it's working. The last few times he was ridden he coughed a couple of times when we first started, but then was able to go on and trot without coughing, so I'm hopeful.

                                    I'm trying to make just one change at a time so I know what's likely working and what likely isn't.

                                    If at some point he needs meds I'll look into some kind of a nebulizer, because the last thing I want to do is founder him.



                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by kande04 View Post
                                      I started soaking his hay and it's working. The last few times he was ridden he coughed a couple of times when we first started, but then was able to go on and trot without coughing, so I'm hopeful.

                                      I'm trying to make just one change at a time so I know what's likely working and what likely isn't.

                                      If at some point he needs meds I'll look into some kind of a nebulizer, because the last thing I want to do is founder him.


                                      That's good! And it is a good approach to try one thing at a time. Soaking hay really makes a difference for my guy and usually negates the need for meds.

                                      I like my Flexineb because it is easily portable, doesn't require an outlet, the horse can be walked with it on, etc. They usually have a 10% off sale a few times a year (at/around certain holidays). So if you ever want one, you can try to save a bit. They're expensive, but worth it, IMO.

                                      Comment

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