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Speak to me of COPD

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  • Speak to me of COPD

    I guess I always thought this was an old horse serious breathing problem-now I am learning it can happen in middle aged horses and can be allergy induced.


    Milo just can't catch a break-I thought I was dealing with roaring-I dismissed COPD---I don't know why. I guess I thought it was an old man disease.

    Anyway, the vet is coming out Thursday so I want to learn everything I can between now and then.

    Milo has had skin allergies for about 6 years now (he is 10 yo this year).

    A few years back I noticed he was very 'labored' sounding at the canter. I did not pay much attention as I was so obsessed with his feet.

    While riding he exhales VERY hard and windered. He also sounds sometimes like he is gulping or swallowing hard.

    He is getting 'worrisome' for lack of a better way to describe it. Again I thought this was related to hooves-but I have that sorted out so can eliminate that.

    He is worried to 'flex' or give...he almost gets panicky but not quite that bad.

    I could here him breathing 'raspy-ish' even at the walk.

    He was tested years ago for allergies and is allergic to the state of Georgia so I guess it is no surprise.

    What is the long term situation for these horses? I understand it is progressive?

    Can they be ridden or does that just create too much discomfort?

  • #2
    Actually, keeping them in good work is a GOOD thing. Think of it a bit like human asthma. While they can certainly have flare ups, it's best when you can keep them fit.

    Another thing to consider is the environmental triggers. Often, wetting down hay, moving to 24/7 turnout, if stalled, watering down shavings, etc can help reduce irritation.

    You may notice what they sometimes call a "heave line" at the abdomen/flank where they can look a little sucked up--but that's from having to "heave" to expel air.

    Allergies certainly can contribute to inflammatory response which can further restrict airways so doing some antihistamines can often help.

    My mare was diagnosed after moving from a 24/7 turnout situation to a stall situation several years ago. It was a "tight" barn with little air circulation and a bit dusty.

    When I moved her back to 24/7 turnout she improved without meds.

    She's doing quite well now at a less dusty place with more air circulation, good hay (not dusty).

    While some horses can certainly get worse if the triggers aren't addressed, my experience has been that if you eliminate or reduce the triggers PLUS medicate as needed, your horse can do fine.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

    Comment


    • #3
      That sounds very bad. He is having problems breathing at the walk but still being ridden?

      To rule out roaring, scope him.

      We acquired a middle aged horse with allergies/mild COPD. We have had him quite a few years now and have been able to manage him very well with changes in his environment (he lives outside, soaking hay is needed). One summer when we moved climates he needed a some antihistamines but we've never had to progress further than that with medications. He may cough once at the beginning of the ride on a dry day, but that's it.

      Many go downhill and can be very hard to manage. Seems obvious, but breathing issues are always an emergency and should never be taken lightly. Good luck.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post

        You may notice what they sometimes call a "heave line" at the abdomen/flank where they can look a little sucked up--but that's from having to "heave" to expel air.
        Interesting note. My COPD horse does NOT have a heave line, but our other horse does. The other horse has never coughed a day in his life, has a REALLY long back, and is kept thin, so the muscles are more visible. It always screws up a new vet when I tell them one has COPD and they are looking at both horses

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by FatPalomino View Post
          Interesting note. My COPD horse does NOT have a heave line, but our other horse does. The other horse has never coughed a day in his life, has a REALLY long back, and is kept thin, so the muscles are more visible. It always screws up a new vet when I tell them one has COPD and they are looking at both horses

          LOL. Well when you see a fatty mc fat fat with the most toned abs of all time, THAT is a heave line.

          Else, may just be a horsey version of a 6 pack. LOL
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by FatPalomino View Post
            That sounds very bad. He is having problems breathing at the walk but still being ridden?
            Yes I am abusive that way.

            Buddy thanks for your response.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Is there a test for it? Or just diagnosed by symptoms?

              Comment


              • #8
                Call me when you have a chance, I have unfortunately have also just become a member of the "I Own A Horse With COPD" group.
                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                ---
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Soaked hay, windows open all the time (in a very airy barn), pelleted bedding. During the "good months" Anihist and Cough Free. Bad months: Prednosolone. Really bad months: Dex (careful, laminitis issues). Ours is also allergy related. When he is under control, happy, lightly active horsie. Welcome to the club...

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                    Call me when you have a chance, I have unfortunately have also just become a member of the "I Own A Horse With COPD" group.
                    It sounds like your experience is what I am not fearing-this is not a simple issue is it?

                    Milo is literally allergic to the state of Georgia-how in the world can *I* provide him a quality of life...

                    and even if it is not COPD, there is something progressive going on.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Are there allergy shots, like humans get, to help them de-sensitize them to whatever they are allergic to? Anybody with experiences with those shots?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chall View Post
                        Are there allergy shots, like humans get, to help them de-sensitize them to whatever they are allergic to? Anybody with experiences with those shots?
                        Yes- I have seen them used in other species. They were expensive. But the OP should have had the dvm explain all the options when she went for allergy testing originally. The vets doing the allergy testing are the best ones to make the decisions, as it can get quite complicated.

                        [edited] Truly, it sounds like you need a very thorough vet exam, which you're doing. Let us know what the vet says. Best of luck- we have been able to manage our very successfully and the horse is mid-20's now (and no one would ever know he had COPD if we didn't tell them), but, I have seen much younger horses crash and burn quickly. There are a variety of medications and treatments available. Of course, none of them come too cheap or without possible side effects. Thus is life.
                        Last edited by admin; Mar. 10, 2010, 01:54 PM. Reason: to remove personal attack

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          [edited]

                          Your comments, as ALWAYS, are completely worthless...
                          Last edited by admin; Mar. 10, 2010, 01:56 PM. Reason: to remove personal attack

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Chall View Post
                            Are there allergy shots, like humans get, to help them de-sensitize them to whatever they are allergic to? Anybody with experiences with those shots?
                            Yes, Milo was on them and showed no improvement.

                            I have heard of others that had good success with them.

                            My bigger question is the reliability of allergy tests-there seems to be lots of questions on that topic.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              LMH, we have one COPD horse here. He is in his twenties, a NSH gelding that is an absolute sweetheart.

                              He gets 8 tabs of albuterol twice daily, syringed into his mouth. Prednesolone (sp?) every other day as well. This manages him pretty well, his COPD is pretty advanced. Most days he is comfortable, he occasionally has bad days, and needs either his 'inhaler' or 3ccs of Dex. Yes, we know the risks of giving this much drugs daily, but it sure beats him suffocating in front of us.

                              His diet is pelleted feed & beet pulp, well soaked, as well as bagged alfalfa (brand name escapes me right at the moment). He is on 24/7 turnout, with access to the same building as my horses, I do have a stall for him if he has an episode.

                              The worst thing about this is as carefully as we manage this, the triggers don't make sense. He is definetely worse on humid days, but not all of them. A windy day can set him off, but not all of them. He can be fine a 6am, and suffering at 2pm. Or he can go weeks happy as a clam.

                              Thankfully, his Mom is a nurse, and his Dad is a Dr. So when I do occasionally go away for a day, I call them, and they monitor him. They are my only local boarders, if would be very difficult if they were not local.

                              Depressing news, eh? But this horse has Advanced COPD. Your horse may/may not have it at all. I'm just giving you the facts so you know what you are facing, long term if he is diagnosed as such. They can go a long time very comfortably if managed correctly. Meds on time, environment controlled, etc.
                              Facta non verba

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thanks lawndart.

                                OK, more questions...for those with these horses, what were the earliest symptoms?

                                Are these horses just fine one day and almost suffocating the next?

                                Or does it sneak up with different symptoms?

                                I guess there would be other airway 'diseases' as well....

                                Just one more thing I was not terribly interested in learning about but not seems to be on my to-do list!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I'm fairly new to this condition as well but thought I would share my experience thus far in case any of it can be of help to you

                                  My horse turns 21 this year. He has, in later years, developed a raspy edge to his breathing which appears to be allergy related. Similar to your guy - I can hear him breathing at a walk when I lead him and sometimes standing in the cross ties. Some days are more noticeable than others. He's not gasping like he's having trouble breathing - it's just noisy. Last spring, it was particularly noticeable and I had the vet check him out. She watched him at rest and monitored him as I rode him. She said the noise was all upper respiratory - like maybe from enlarged glands around his airways? but that he did not appear to be having trouble breathing. Unfortunately, last summer turned out to be his worst year yet. He developed a cough in May that refused to quit until the cool weather returned in late September. It didn't matter if it was dry or humid - it seemed to be the heat coupled with some allergen that was triggering him. Oddly enough, the vet said she had treated more horses for coughs last summer than she could remember. It was a very wet spring so maybe it was mold? Throughout the winter he's had no problems.

                                  Anyways, our treatment regimen was Anihist twice daily which was paired with Cough Free eventually. Hay and feed was all wet and he was never stalled. I didn't ride him unless I just got on bareback and walked. Twice towards the end of the summer (think August heat) the vet had to come give him a small dose of Dex because he did actually get to the point where he seemed to be having trouble breathing. He just couldn't stop coughing - a very dry, deep-down-in-the-gut type cough. As soon as the cooler air of fall started to come in, the cough stopped almost as quickly as it started.

                                  Fingers crossed that last year was a fluke and that things won't be so bad this year - but in preparation.... My vet has recommended that I put him on Histall (not Anihist) at the first sign of any type of cough or irritation this spring. If that doesn't put a stop to it within a week, we'll switch to a stronger anihistimine - NOT Trihist, since he stopped sweating on that once, but another type that the name escapes me. Vet also recommended altering his vaccination program this spring, as it's possible that all of those shots at once can create an overactive immune system going into the summer allergy season. We skipped rabies this spring and will be doing it in the fall. I skipped rhino/flu completely. I did give him EEE/WN just because we have a horrific mosquito population here and I was nervous about skipping that too.

                                  It's still a learning process for me and I'm sure we'll change more things along the way as we figure out what works best for him. It's very helpful though to read everyone else's experiences and try to gain some insight as to what other options are available. It was a very frustrating and helpless feeling trying to find something that would help my horse last year.
                                  "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                                  Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    One more thing - as far as earlier symptoms I noticed... my horse has never had skin allergies like some horses seem to have but the last year or two he has started having random allergic reactions, maybe to bug bites or something he's eating in the pasture? He'll break out in hives at times for no apparent reason. He never use to do this. He's also very reactive to tick bites. He gets the big, oozing welts that itch like crazy.

                                    Ok I think I'm done
                                    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                                    Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks Skip! That was helpful.

                                      You described what I am noticing in Milo.

                                      Years ago, nothing...then it seemed to only be sometimes at the canter-never at the trot or walk.

                                      I think another reason this slipped by me is he has been out of work more than in work-so much of his time riding is getting back in shape so mostly walk, little trot, rarely canter.

                                      Once he finally built up to the canter, I noticed this raspy breathing all the time. At first I thought lack of fitness-but that just seemed wrong.

                                      I noticed that not long ago...

                                      We have had a tough winter and not much riding-over 3 weeks of no riding.

                                      Yesterday way the first day I trotted him-noticed the rasping for the first time at the trot.

                                      Then for the first time barely heard it at the walk.

                                      Milo does not have any cough, no nasal discharge...he DOES blow OFTEN while riding-apparently not just when relaxing yesterday he is blowing more often than not.

                                      I also noticed him sorting of 'gulping' or struggling to swallow.

                                      So I stopped, got off, called the vet and posted here looking for some information

                                      Thanks again for sharing.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by LMH View Post

                                        Do you have nothing better to do than sit and wait for me to post so you can make snotty comments?
                                        Well, I reported your post as rude and inappropriate. You have come to ask for other people's stories and suggestions but shoot them down every time. I really fell bad for your horse, that has (as you have stated) been suffering with an ailment for years without treatment or proper diagnosis. Good luck. I'll be sending good vibes for your horse.

                                        Comment

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