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talk to me about older horses and coughing....

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by bkreugar, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. bkreugar

    bkreugar Songster

    Jun 18, 2008
    Asheboro NC
    I have a 22 yr old morab. I've had her for 13 years. She has been an easy keeper. Great all around trail horse/games horse. She's been passed down thru the family and now my 9 yr old son has been riding her for last 2 years. She's SOUND, which I felt like was quite a feat as most horses I keep to to retirement, have lameness issues. But she's100% sound.

    She has slowed down a bit since she hit 20 and has taken her job in taking care of my son VERY seriously. I plan to keep her to the end. She's in good weight and doesn't require a lot.

    I have noticed since spring when she runs in pasture she coughs. Not constant but regular. She ESPECIALLY coughs when we tack up before we ever even get on. She then coughs once or twice and is fine under saddle. Ive known many older horses that cough during warm up. I think this is a bit more than that.

    They are fed roundbales in pasture as pasture is not enough to support the 3 I have. I had thought maybe it was the time of year, well now I know that isn't it. Then I thought maybe hay, so I changed hay, nope still coughing. Asked daughters trainer , she says allergies as they get older., I KNOW it isn't that.

    Vet is coming this month ( a new to me vet) for coggins and teeth and I will ask him. I THINK she is getting a little heavy with age, but I would like to know if anyone has had anything help?

  2. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Are you familiar with thehorse.com? It's the website of a magazine by the same name. You need to be a member to read it (signing up is free), but there are scads of articles about horses with heaves/COPD/RAO. The last time I looked into it, I seem to remember reading that there are treatments available, but starting treatment while the condition is still in its early stages seems to be critical to preserving the usefulness of the animal. Good luck, it sounds like your old horse is a great gal and I hope you can keep her comfortable and useful for many more years!
  3. Jubilee1111

    Jubilee1111 Songster

    Jan 8, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Curious, how do you know it isn't allergies? I know of a couple horses who developed allergies and eventually COPD from them.
  4. suedagardener

    suedagardener In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2011
    YOu are sweating the small stuff. without a runny nose, it means nothing. I've had horses longer than many have been alive...if it stops after awhile...don't worry. If however, the horse has an icky nose or eyes..its a vet call. Not emergency, but something to think about.

    I worry about easy stuff too... so you aren't alone. I would be saying something like that about my pigs if I didn't know.

    Its all good. Good luck
  5. WallabyOfChaos

    WallabyOfChaos Songster

    Mar 17, 2012
    Texas Panhandle
    My Coop
    We had a 15 year old Percheron mare develop heaves because of dust from the heavily traveled dirt road next to her pasture. No runny nose or goopy eyes, just a persistent cough and eventually labored breathing. Her condition forced her in to an early retirement. Just because they don't "look" sick doesn't mean everything is A-OK. I would go ahead and talk with the vet just to make sure.
  6. FlaRocky

    FlaRocky Songster

    If the vet is coming out anyway, have them do a good once over so they know your stock. Have them take a good listen to her lungs and see what they say. You already have them doing a farm call, so might as well have them check her out soothe way.

    Just my two cents... I know I would if she where mine. Let us know what they find.


    Ride the Glide....Got Gait.....I Do.....
  7. bkreugar

    bkreugar Songster

    Jun 18, 2008
    Asheboro NC
    I really don't think it's allergies because I've had her 12 or 13 years, and this is a SUDDEN this spring thing. But it was the coolest week so far since April and I have heard a noticed difference in the coughing. She's coughing LESS in the cooler weather.

    Vet is coming out Next wed or thursday. So I wait to hear what he says.

    She's older and a GREAT mare for my son, so I hate to think this is the downward slide for her. I was hoping someone had some expereince with some great treatments. I would be willing to do any kind of daily treatment if it was $50.00 or less a month.

  8. bkreugar

    bkreugar Songster

    Jun 18, 2008
    Asheboro NC
    Oh and I don't know if this is related or not, but as i've said I've had her a while, and we changed vets 3x in 12 years. A few years ago the new vet said she had a heart murmer and I had never been told that before. He told me as they age it's more noticable in older horses. So the heart murmur and the coughing I do wonder of there is something bigger going on.
  9. Nslangton

    Nslangton Chirping

    Jan 19, 2012
    Allergies develop over time with horses and the symptoms you described make me 100 percent certain that is what you are dealing with. They usually develop to things that they are continually exposed to. Foods, pollens, insects, etc. I have had several horses with allergies and have done extensive research, worked closely with our veterinarians, and veterinary schools specializing in hypo-sensitization. Management is key if you don't want your horse to develop copd or heaves which can become quite expensive to you and debilitating for the horse. There is spot testing for horses that will determine what your horse is allergic to; however, it is expensive and many of the things that they are allergic to such as pollen can not be controlled. It is extremely helpful in determining which foods, bedding, materials, etc. are causing the allergy. Right now I have a horse that is allergic to corn, oats, barley, alfalfa, timothy, orchard grass etc. I would need to starve him to death if I were to eliminate everything he was allergic to from his diet, so I try to manage the best I can and have had years of success without medicines or allergy shots. I would start with the things you can control and see if that makes a difference for your horse. The number one culprit is dust. You can control this by keeping your horse outside as much as possible. When inside keep every door and window open to provide air circulation. My doors are open 24/7 regardless of weather. I also have fans in my barn running constantly every day of the year. Mist any bedding with water before you allow the horse in its stall. Hay is the most likely to cause allergies due to the dust. I soak my hay daily for all of my horses, but you can shake it out and sprinkle it with water too. This reduces the dust greatly so there is not a steady stream going up the nostrils with every bite of hay. I would try to switch from the round bales, but if you are unable to do so I would separate the horses ration from the others and wet that portion of hay. Good luck to you. A horse that develops heaves is heartbreaking to watch trying to breath and can be exremely expensive.

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