Horse Coughing When Eating? (Correct answer)

Any horse will cough occasionally, particularly if he catches a noseful of dusty air or gets a bit of debris in his airways while he’s eating or drinking. In that context, coughing in horses is just a normal sign of a healthy airway keeping itself clean.

  • If the cough occurs only when your horse eats, conditions such as a cleft palate, dorsal displacement of the soft palate, and soft palate paresis should be ruled out. Two common causes of cough that owners often confuse are Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO), better known as “heaves,” and Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD).

Why does my horse cough when she eats?

If your horse eats a pelleted feed, the pellets may be dusty and crumble easily, irritating his airways. If any part of the process of chewing, moving the feed to the back of the mouth and lifting it with the tongue to create the perfect swallowing movement does not work properly, it can cause your horse to cough.

What causes horses to cough?

It is frequently caused by an allergy, most often mold or dust. IAD is a condition that generally affects younger horses. Signs also include exercise intolerance and a cough, but IAD horses do not have increased respiratory effort at rest. IAD is also believed to have an allergic component.

How do you get rid of a horse’s cough?

Autumn cough Many viruses are harmless and the accompanying cough will often go away after a few days. Gentle exercise in the open air can help to get rid of the mucus. To be on the safe side, a horse with wet nasal discharge should be separated from other horses. If in doubt, you can always call the vet.

Can worms in horses cause coughing?

Lungworm is an infection of the lower respiratory tract in horses, usually resulting in bronchitis or pneumonia, caused by the parasitic roundworm Dictyocaulus arnfieldi. The infection can cause severe coughing in horses and can be difficult to distinguish from other respiratory diseases.

Why does my horse cough when cantering?

When a horse begins to exercise, he breathes more deeply, so he may cough to clear mucus from his airways. Some horses naturally produce more mucus than others, so for them, a cough or two at the beginning of a ride is just normal.

What does a Covid cough sound like?

What Does a COVID Cough Sound Like? Believe it or not, COVID coughs do have qualities that set them apart from an average cough: Dry Cough – It sounds like someone’s hacking up a lung. It carries a consistent, rough tone because it doesn’t contain mucus.

Can dusty hay make a horse cough?

Any horse will cough occasionally, particularly if he catches a noseful of dusty air or gets a bit of debris in his airways while he’s eating or drinking.

What are the first signs of strangles in horses?

What are the signs of Strangles?

  • Depression.
  • Loss of appetite/ Difficulty eating.
  • Raised temperature.
  • Cough.
  • Nasal discharge, often thick and yellow (purulent or pus like).
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) around the throat.
  • Drainage of pus from the lymph nodes around the jaw.

What are the signs of heaves in horses?

Symptoms of Heaves in Horses

  • Exercise intolerance.
  • Increased respiratory rate at rest or following exercise.
  • Abnormal lung sounds.
  • Weight loss.
  • Wheezing.
  • Flaring of nostrils.

What are the symptoms of lung worms in horses?

Symptoms of lungworm in horses may include:

  • Persistent cough.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Labored breathing.
  • Depression.
  • Weakness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.

What are the signs of lungworm?

Signs of lungworm disease are vague, and easily confused with other illnesses, including:

  • Weight loss.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Coughing (especially bringing up blood)
  • Lethargy.
  • Poor blood clotting/persistent bleeding.
  • General sickness.
  • Circling.
  • Stomach and back pain.

How do you get rid of lung worms in horses?

Two antiparasitic drugs, moxidectin and ivermectin, are effective for treatment of lungworms. Horses at pasture should be moved inside for treatment, and supportive care may be needed for complications that can arise.

6 Types of Horse Coughs You Should Not Ignore

If your horse coughs every now and again, there is usually nothing to be concerned about. This is a very natural technique for them to maintain their lungs free of dust and other microscopic particles. Some coughs, on the other hand, may be a warning sign of an inflammatory illness that requires immediate treatment. Understanding the many sorts of coughs, as well as using sound judgment, may be essential in determining whether to seek veterinarian assistance.


At the beginning of a workout regimen, it is fairly uncommon to cough once or twice to get the blood flowing. At the outset of work, your horse’s natural reaction is to clear his upper airway of any mucous or tiny debris that has accumulated. If the coughing continues throughout the ride and interferes with performance in any way, the ride should be halted until the reason of the coughing can be determined. If there is no evidence that the environment was the source of the response, it might be a physical defect or a symptom of inflammation in the airways.


An excreting cough that produces mucus is typically indicative of inflammation in one or more sections of the horse’s airways. The thickness and color of the mucus might provide a strong indicator of the underlying source of the problem. Examples:

  • Horses suffering from allergies — Mucus that is thin, transparent, or barely colored
  • Horses suffering from bacterial illness have thicker discharge that is yellow/white in color. Horses suffering from viral illness, and so on —Somewhere in the middle

It is possible to distinguish between an infectious and a non-infectious source of coughing in your horse by taking his or her temperature promptly. A viral infection is characterized by greater fevers in the beginning of the illness, whereas heaves would not normally produce a rise in temperature.


Horses that develop a cough within a few hours of being unloaded from a trailer should be examined further, because horses that attend a show or event where they would have been exposed to other horses are at risk of contracting viral respiratory diseases such as equine influenza or rhinopneumonitis, which are contagious. There is also a kind of bacterial pneumonia known as’shipping fever,’ which manifests up in horses that spend lengthy periods of time traveling in a trailer that is hitched in such a way that they are unable to drop their heads to empty their air passages.


The presence of coughing in a horse who is standing around in a reasonably well-ventilated location with no visible dust blowing around would warrant further investigation. For example, a little piece of debris that had previously been lodged in the airways may provide a straightforward explanation. A tumor pressing on the airways could provide a more intricate one. It is possible that it is connected to a previous injury, such as a kick to the ribs, that induced inflammation in the lung tissue.


Coughing in horses under the age of two years can be caused by two dangerous conditions: This sort of worm appears in the intestines of a foal after the eggs are consumed by the foal. It then travels to the lungs within a few days. When the parasite reaches this stage, it has caused enough discomfort to induce coughing, resulting in the parasite being ingested back into the foal’s stomach.

Because this type of parasite can cause significant inflammation in the horse’s airways, coughing in young horses should always be treated with caution, especially in cases of bronchitis.

This bacteria can cause serious lung infections in foals less than 4 months old if they are exposed to it. Because the bacteria resides on the ground, the foal contracts the sickness by simply breathing the dust particles that the organism has accumulated. It is only after this that the foal will cough up and ingest the diseased mucus, which will then be transferred back to the earth with its excrement. A failure to handle the soil infection will jeopardize the future of all future generations of foals.


If your horse chokes on his feed while eating, it will typically resolve itself and will not be life-threatening in the majority of cases. Although it’s unlikely, if your horse inhales some of the feed during the choking episode, he may be at higher risk of having aspiration pneumonia, a serious lung infection. An quick start to broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment would be the best course of action in such a circumstance. If the coughing while eating continues, there may be a number of possible causes to consider investigating:

  • Dental problems, which hinder your horse from properly eating his food and can result in choking. Your horse’s airways may be irritated if he consumes a pelleted feed since the pellets are dusty and crumble readily
  • This is especially true if he consumes a grain-based diet. Your horse’s coughing can be caused by a malfunction in any of the steps in the chewing process: pushing the feed to the rear of the mouth, raising it with the tongue to make the right swallowing action, and so on. Acute throat infections or injuries, as well as abscesses in the throat area An anomaly of the physical body

The knowledge of the many sorts of coughs and the effects they may have on your horse will go a long way toward increasing your confidence in caring for your prized possession. THIS POST SHOULD BE SHARED ON YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM

What Is Making Your Horse Cough? Veterinary Medicine at Illinois

In the event that your horse displays indications of lameness, colic, choke, or any other acute risks, you would not hesitate to seek veterinary assistance for him right away. But what should you do if your horse exhibits symptoms that are less obvious, such as a coughing spell? When Dr. Lori Madsen graduated from the University of Illinois with a veterinary degree in 2014, she went on to do an internship at the New England Equine Medical and Surgical Center in Dover, New Hampshire. She subsequently moved to Illinois, where she worked for a short period of time in the food animal service at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital before transferring to the equine surgical service at the same facility.

  1. Madsen’s special interests.
  2. Dr.
  3. Hundreds of different factors might be contributing to your horse’s coughing spell.
  4. Described in this page is information that may be utilized to narrow down the probable diagnosis, as well as the tools and tests that veterinarians use to determine what is causing your horse’s cough.

Check for Fever

The first step is to assess whether or not your horse is suffering from a fever. Take your horse’s temperature once or twice a day for a few days to get a good reading. If the temperature rises beyond 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, call your veterinarian. A cough that is accompanied by a fever may suggest an infection or tumor, and prompt veterinarian attention should be sought. If you have ruled out a fever in your horse, the next step is to pay attention to his surroundings, the times when he coughs, and any other clinical indications that may be present.

Do you notice that your horse coughs more during one season than another?

Is he coughing when he’s trying to eat? Is it better to eat before or after exercising? What is the nature of his nasal discharge? Is it coming from one or both nostrils, if so, which one? Is the discharge free of debris? yellowish? bloody?

Diagnosing a Cough: Stethoscope

A comprehensive physical examination will be performed by your veterinarian, which will involve listening to the heart and lungs using a stethoscope to determine the condition of the heart and lungs. The use of a cardiac ultrasonography may be required if an arrhythmia (irregular heart sound) is discovered. It is possible for fluid to build in the lungs due to a cardiac issue that inhibits proper blood flow forward. This condition is known as pulmonary edema. If your horse’s lungs are making odd respiratory sounds, your veterinarian may prescribe a transtracheal wash or a broncheoalveolar lavage to clear the airways.

A transtracheal wash can aid in the diagnosis of infection, such as bacterial or viral pneumonia, but a broncheoalveolar lavage is used when an infection is less likely to occur and a lung or airway condition is probable.

Diagnosing a Cough: Ultrasound

When it comes to acquiring information on the lungs, ultrasound is a fantastic instrument. A stethoscope can detect aberrant lung sounds when illness is present, but the condition has not yet progressed to the point where abnormal lung sounds may be recognized. A thoracic ultrasound allows veterinarians to see within the lungs and diagnose abnormalities such as consolidation (a deflated lung that is no longer able to participate in oxygen exchange), fluid in the lungs, or other issues that may be present.

Diagnosing a Cough: Endoscopy

An endoscopy is another tool that may be used to evaluate a horse who has a cough. An endoscopy is a procedure that inserts a small camera into the trachea, upper airways, and guttural pouches to allow the veterinarian to examine what is going on within the animal. Endoscopy can be used to visualize tracheal collapse and partial occlusion of the trachea caused by a foreign body or a mass in the trachea. The presence of anatomic defects in the upper airway that prevent the airway from being adequately protected from debris, such as dorsal displacement of the soft palate and rostral placement of the palatopharyngeal arch, as well as arytenoepiglottic fold entrapment and subepiglottic cysts, can cause a cough.

Diagnosing a Cough: Other Clinical Signs

Increased knowledge about your horse’s cough can assist your veterinarian in narrowing down the issue more rapidly and with fewer tests than previously possible. If there is nasal discharge in addition to a cough, it may be necessary to take skull radiographs (X-rays). When a sinus is infected, discharge may drain not just from the nose, but also down the throat, resulting in a coughing fit. if your horse’s coughing happens exclusively during or after activity, it’s probable that he’s suffering from exercise-induced lung hemorrhage.

In certain situations, the blood may occasionally trickle down the throat, causing a coughing fit. The presence of a cleft palate, dorsal displacement of the soft palate, and soft palate paresis in your horse should be checked out before proceeding with further testing.


Owners frequently mix two common causes of cough that are typically misdiagnosed: Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO), sometimes known as “heaves,” and Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD) (IAD). RAO is a disorder that primarily affects elderly horses, although it can affect younger horses as well. Increased respiratory effort at rest, exercise intolerance, and a cough are all symptoms of this condition in horses. Most of the time, it is caused by an allergy, most often to mold or dust. IAD is a disorder that mostly affects young horses and ponies.

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It is also suspected that IAD contains an allergic component.

The horse must first be treated medically, using anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilators to help it breathe more comfortably.

For example, providing the horse with a stall with a window or by the door to ensure good ventilation and fresh air; turning the horse out during times when the barn has debris in the air, such as when the stalls are being mucked or when the aisle is being swept; using shavings that are not dusty; wetting the hay; and keeping the arena footing well watered to minimize dust are all examples of practices that can be implemented.

The Diagnosis Is in the Details

Owners are sometimes disappointed by the large number of probable reasons of their horse’s cough, as well as the large number of tests that their veterinarian may be required to do. By paying close attention to when and where the cough occurs, as well as any additional clinical symptoms, you may assist your veterinarian in determining the source of the cough and the best treatment for your horse. Lori Madsen, DVM is the author of this article. Image courtesy of Pixabay

Horse Coughing Remedies, Problems and Treatment

You have finally completed storing your hay for the year and are ready to start harvesting. A deep sigh, relieved that the annual duty is finally finished. The barn is filled with small particles of dust, hay remains, and pollen, and the air is thick with pollen. The wind has you sneezing, and your horse is coughing, so you decide to walk outdoors for some fresh air. You begin to wonder why your horse is coughing, about horse coughing cures, and whether or not you should consult with your veterinarian about the situation.

The good news is that it is very unusual for horses to cough a few times throughout the course of a day.

Why Is My Horse Coughing?

The fact that there are several reasons that might cause a horse to cough does not negate the fact that early discovery of the condition is critical to preserving the long-term health of your equine companion.

The majority of the time, a horse’s cough may be traced back to his or her food habits, physical activity, age, and environmental conditions. Occasionally, coughing can be caused by a viral or bacterial illness, and understanding how to recognize these situations is critical.

Environmental Factors About Horse Coughing

As with people, dry, dusty settings with debris-filled air will cause your horse to cough, just as they do in humans. Additionally, a horse may be suffering from allergies, which may be recognized by the presence of a cough and an accompanying clear or light-colored discharge from their nostrils.

Horse Coughing While Eating

Aspiration pneumonia is the most dangerous of the problems you should look out for if your horse coughs while eating. If left untreated, this ailment can be fatal to your horse. The condition known as aspiration pneumonia happens when a horse inhales a foreign item into his or her lungs, which ultimately causes an infection.


Stopping the exercise and determining the source of the problem is the best course of action if you notice that your horse appears to be having difficulty breathing or appears to be losing energy during exercise, especially when the problem is not caused by environmental factors such as a dusty arena. The heat and movement caused by exercise might cause some horses to cough because the heat and action can help to loosen mucus or transfer food leftovers into your horse’s throat. However, if the cough is chronic, there is almost likely something wrong with the horse, as protracted coughs are frequently associated with a worsened ailment in the horse in the majority of cases.

As a result, it’s possible that your horse is coughing in an attempt to bring the pallet back where it belongs.

Coughing indicates that your horse is coughing on a regular basis during the activity.

Find out more about What Does a High Fibrinogen Level in Horses Mean.

Bacterial/Viral Infections

Coughs associated with bacterial or viral illnesses can be easily diagnosed by taking the horse’s temperature at the time of the cough. As a result, a fever of more than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit should prompt you to contact your veterinarian. As the body attempts to combat the virus, viral infections are typically accompanied with a high-grade fever during the beginning of the infection. When your horse coughs up yellowish or whitish mucus, you should be aware that the infection is caused by either a bacterial or a viral infection, which you should report to your veterinarian.

Horse Coughing Remedies

Even while prevention is always preferable in situations like these, understanding the likely reason for your horse’s cough will assist you in recognizing the warning symptoms when they appear.

This does not imply that you are fully off the hook until your veterinarian comes; there are things you may do to maintain control over the environment and air quality until your veterinarian arrives.

Environmental Remedies

If your horse suffers from allergies or sensitivity to tiny particles in the air, the most important thing you can do is limit his exposure to these particles. A barn is by its very nature a dusty, gritty environment. Nevertheless, while cleaning the stalls, allow your horse out and use bedding that does not contribute to the accumulation of dust. Preparing hay by softly soaking it before feeding it, and paying close attention to the grittiness of the grains you are giving are all good practices.

(Like the bottom of a bag of broken chips, the bottom of the grain back is likely to have collected a lot of the fine particles that have chipped away from the grain, resulting in a dust-like powder.) Horses can also develop allergic responses to insect stings, shampoos, and pollen, among other things.

Feed Remedies and Physical Factors

Coughing when feeding can occur for a variety of reasons, one of which is that the horse hasn’t been able to chew his hay completely or has swallowed it too soon, causing him to cough in an attempt to clear his airway of the obstruction, which is commonly referred to as “Choke.” If your horse is coughing while eating on a regular basis, you should examine his teeth to check that they are in excellent condition and consult with your veterinarian if you discover any abnormalities.

There are a variety of physical causes that can contribute to your horse’s cough that are out of your control, such as troubles with the epiglottis flap (which guides your horse’s bolus (chewed food) away from the airway and down to the esophagus) being stuck from time to time.

If your horse coughs when eating on a frequent basis and environmental variables such as dusty hay or grain that contains a lot of granular dust have been ruled out, it is recommended to consult your veterinarian for assistance in determining the source of the coughing episode.

Other Factors forHorse Coughing

Recognizing whether a cough is the consequence of a bacterial or viral illness is critical to not only treating the condition but also limiting it so that it does not spread to the rest of your herd and cause further problems. In addition to keeping an eye on your horse’s temperature, bacterial illnesses can be distinguished by a cough that generates thicker mucus, whereas viral infections may create mucus that is thinner and more watery in appearance. In such cases, you will want to not only contact your veterinarian, but you will also want to separate your horse from the rest of your herd in order to prevent additional infection.

In addition, you will need to tell any other horse owners of your plans. They are the owners of horses who may have come into touch with yours.

Horse Coughing Treatment

Once you’ve determined the source of the problem, you should work to eliminate any environmental elements that are contributing to it. Furthermore, treating your horse’s persistent coughing is best done under the guidance of your veterinarian to avoid any complications. Your veterinarian will utilize the use of medical equipment to assist in the identification and treatment of the condition. They will initially take your horse’s temperature because the temperature has risen beyond 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • If there is no evidence of a fever, your veterinarian may proceed.
  • However, this does not rule out the possibility of a combination of additional contributing elements.
  • Consequently, your veterinarian will use their stethoscope to listen for respiratory disturbances, and they may even utilize an ultrasound if they are unable to determine where the problem is coming from.
  • It can assist your veterinarian in identifying structures that are obstructing breathing or in diagnosing physical problems in your pet.
  • This might range from drug therapy to having a dialogue about decreasing its exposure to the outdoors and changing its eating habits.


As is always the case, prevention and early identification will save both you and your horse a great deal of time and worry in the long run. Simply understanding that chronic coughing is not normal is sufficient. Contacting a veterinarian as soon as the symptoms of your coughing Horse begin to appear might be beneficial. The prevention of any worsened type of illness will be aided by this treatment. Unfortunately, your veterinarian will not be able to spend as much time with your horse as you will be able to do.

Examine the circumstances in which the cough is occurring.

In addition, the air quality in your barn should be breathable.


  • Coughing that continues for an extended period of time in horses is atypical and can signal a variety of diseases
  • A fever of 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or above may suggest the presence of a bacterial or viral illness. Calling your veterinarian is a good idea in this situation. You should also segregate the diseased horse from the rest of your herd in order to prevent future infection. Observe any mucus for consistency and color and make a note of it. Make a note of any mucus discharged from your horse’s nose or the lack of such discharge. Providing your veterinarian with this information is critical since it will aid him or her in diagnosing the condition. With proper ventilation, the air quality in your barn may be improved. It is best not to store hay supplies above the stalls of horses who suffer from allergies. Dust can be decreased by soaking your horse’s hay just a little bit. Alternatively, steer clear of feed grain that has been ground into a powder.


Observation What you see is what you get. Your observations should serve as the beginning step for resolving any horse health-related concern.


Coughing is the ejection of air via the airway as a result of irritation of the trachea and larynx of the upper airway, which is triggered by a reflex. Airborne particles irritate the airways, causing the vast majority of simple coughs to occur. Even clean, high-quality hay includes an astonishing quantity of dust, which is derived by the horse’s consumption of the hay. There are a variety of additional reasons of cough, including upper respiratory tract virus and bacterial infection, as well as a variety of other factors.

If in doubt, segregate the horse from the rest of the herd.

When compared to horses who live in more natural situations, the air quality in certain stables is worse. There are often large quantities of ammonia present, and ammonia is extremely irritating to the respiratory system.

Code Red

Even if it’s after business hours, call your veterinarian right away.

  • In addition to this indicator, if the horse appears to be unwell, or if the horse appears to be eating less than usual
  • If the problem appears to be severe and has shown itself unexpectedly
  • If the horse appears to be in difficulty, call for help. It is necessary to do a Whole Horse Exam (WHE) on the resting horse if the findings show that the horse has a fever (Temp 101F/38.3C) or a heart rate more than 48 BPM

Code Orange

Contact your veterinarian during their first available office hours.

  • If the horse’s appetite and attitude are normal, and there is nothing else wrong with him, he is considered healthy. If the findings of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) indicate that the animal is otherwise healthy, the horse is considered normal.
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It’s possible that you’re also observingVery Common.

  • Fever, rectal temperature more than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit (in an adult)
  • Depression, dullness, illness, or lethargic state
  • Nostril discharge (white, yellow, or green) from both nostrils
  • A lump, a bump, or a growth in the Throat Area, behind the jaw, or under the ear
  • A generalized swelling of the throat behind the jaw
  • Discharge from one or both nostrils (clear)
  • Generalized swelling of the throat behind the jaw Resting heart rate more than 48 beats per minute in an adult
  • Not eating, loss of appetite, or feeling hungry

your role

If the coughing of your horse is seen, first examine the potential of contagion, and if in doubt, isolate the horse and initiate quarantine process. Also, evaluate the hay the horse is consuming as a possible source of the problem right away. No matter what the source of the cough is, you should begin soaking hay before feeding as soon as possible. The next procedure is typically beneficial regardless of the underlying reason of the cough. Using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), check your horse’s overall health, searching for nasal discharge and paying close attention to his rectal temperature, pulse, and breathing rate, among other things.

Strangles can cause lymph node enlargement, which is highly noticeable in the area around the horse’s throat and beneath the jaw.

A prolonged cough may signal the onset of recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), which is a kind of allergic airway illness that affects the lungs.

Coughing horses or horses with nasal discharge should not be forced to maintain an elevated position.

What Not To Do

Coughing horses or horses with nasal discharge should not be forced to maintain an elevated position. This may result in the inhalation of foreign matter into the lungs, increasing the risk of pneumonia.

Skills you may need

You may be required to conduct procedures on your horse at some point.

your vet’s role

Whenever a dog complains of coughing, your veterinarian takes into consideration his overall health as well as environmental factors. It is possible that your veterinarian will be able to tell the difference between an upper airway problem (windpipe, voice box) and a lower airway problem by attentively listening to the respiratory tract (lungs). We employ x-rays, endoscopy, and trans-tracheal wash or BAL sampling to obtain further information on the patient’s respiratory tract fluid. The results of blood tests and a physical examination indicate if the cause is likely to be contagious.

  • Whether or not the horse has interacted with other horses
  • Inquire as to the horse’s age, gender, breed, and previous history. When did you first become aware of this? What is your horse’s attitude and appetite like right now
  • Is there any coughing among the other horses in the group? Is there any nasal discharge present, and if yes, what does it look like
  • And What is the history of the horse’s travels
  • Who knows what the outcome of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) will be. Describe the sort and quality of the hay you’ve purchased. Inquire about the horse’s immunization history. When is the coughing most noticeable (when eating, exercising, or doing anything else)
  • Are the horses kept in the same stable as the donkeys? Describe the kind of exercise and horseback riding that you and your horse like doing together.

Diagnostics Your Vet May Perform

Identifying and addressing the root source of the problem. These are tests or procedures that your veterinarian will use to discover what is wrong with you.

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

Identifying and addressing the root source of the situation. The tests or procedures that your veterinarian does to diagnose what is wrong with you are listed below.

  • The Equine Influenza virus (EI) is a nonspecific viral infection that can cause pneumonia in horses. Other diseases include: smoke inhalation pneumonia, summer pasture-associated obstructive pulmonary disease, SPAOPD, exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), Strangles, Megaesophagus, Lungworm infection, intestinal parasitism in growing horses, parasitic diseases of the organs, and parasitic diseases of the lungs. Esophagitis is a term used to describe a variety of conditions affecting the esophagus in general. Rhodococcus equi, a bacterium that causes foal pneumonia. Arytenoid ChondritisEpiglottiditis
  • Equine Infectious Anemia, EIA
  • Guttural Pouch Conditions in General
  • Guttural Pouch EmpyemaChondroids
  • Equine Infectious Anemia, EI

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A method of resolving the issue or diagnosing the problem.

Identifying and treating the underlying causes of disease or treating the symptoms of disease (symptomatic treatment) Doug Thal, DVM, Dipl. ABVP is the author of this article.

Horse Coughing Problems, Causes and Treatment

Horse coughing might be completely innocuous, but it can also be the first indicator of more serious problems. All horses cough from time to time, for example, if they have a piece of material lodged in their airways, when eating or drinking, or at the beginning of exercise “to clear the throat.”. Coughing is simply a typical indicator of a healthy airway attempting to keep itself clear under these circumstances. However, why do horses cough in addition to this? And when does it serve as a warning sign of something more sinister?

Signs of Respiratory Problems in Horses

Coughing signals that the horse’s respiratory system is inflamed and needs to be treated. Coughs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the distinctions between them might aid in determining the reason.

  • While an occasional cough is normally nothing to be concerned about, when it continues or is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be suggestive of a more serious respiratory disease.
  • When coughing, is it dry or is it accompanied by nasal discharge?
  • A dry cough indicates that there is no phlegm present. In contrast, discharge from the nose suggests that an excessive amount of mucus or phlegm is being generated as a result of the respiratory disorder.
  • Several horses on the same property are coughing at the same time
  • A large number of horses coughing in a large yard or barn is most likely caused by an infectious agent that is being passed from horse to horse, such as a respiratory virus. When one horse coughs on its own, while in the company of others, it shows that the condition is not contagious.
  • Coughing that appears out of nowhere might be an indication of choking. The horse’s oesophagus becomes blocked when food becomes lodged inside it. Despite the fact that it is not a respiratory illness, it may be a terrifying encounter. The first step to taking care of a horse that appears to be suffering from choking is to remove any food from the horse’s mouth and allow the horse to fully relax their neck before contacting a veterinarian.
  • A cough that begins to appear after the horse has traveled should be checked as soon as it is noticed. If the horse has contracted a viral illness from another horse during an event or while being transported, it is possible that the horse has contracted Shipping Fever, which affects horses that have traveled considerable distances.
  • Additionally, if the horse’s cough is occurring in conjunction with other symptoms such as the horse being off its feed, an elevated fever, or decreased performance, these are further indications that the horse is suffering from a respiratory illness.

Veterinary Investigation

Always have a veterinarian look at any coughing that is accompanied by nasal discharge, high temperature, decreased performance, or that has afflicted numerous horses on the same property. A thorough veterinary checkup may involve the following procedures: listening to the horse’s chest, blood tests, nasal swabs, endoscopic inspection, tracheal or lung wash. These tests are utilized to gain a better understanding of what is ailing the animal and to try to arrive at a definite diagnosis as well as a treatment plan that is successful.

What Causes a Horse to Cough?

  • Influenza (Flu) infection is still a prevalent cause of respiratory illness and coughing in horses, despite immunization against it. It is caused by a virus and spreads quickly through a yard to all horses who are stabled together at the same time. An increased fever and decreased appetite are typical symptoms of influenza. For horses who have not been vaccinated against influenza, the sickness can be extended and potentially life-threatening. In young horses, the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) is a common cause of coughing and clear nasal discharge, which is caused by the virus. This virus has the potential to spread fast to all of the horses in the yard who were previously uninfected. It is typically a benign illness, however it can produce increased temperatures and decreased feed intake in some cases. Preventing the spread of the EHV in a yard is possible by vaccination. Dranglings: Strangles are one of the most prevalent causes of respiratory illness in horses, and it is caused by the extremely contagious bacterium Streptococcus equi, which is spread through the air. Strangles spreads quickly through infected exudates such as nasal discharge to infect all horses at a stable or boarding facility. Increased fever, decreased appetite, nasal discharge, coughing, and enlarged lymph nodes are some of the common indications of the disease (glands). Many times the enlarged glands will break, causing pus to be expelled onto the skin. When horses get older, they are more likely to develop asthma, which is also known as recurrent airway obstruction (ROA), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), orheaves. Asthma is a typical cause of coughing in elderly horses. It is caused by an allergic reaction in the horse’s lungs to dust, fungus, mould spores, bacterial products, and other irritating particles present in fodder, bedding, and the surroundings, which causes the horse to cough. In reaction to this allergic response, the horse coughs more frequently and produces more mucus, reducing the width of his airways and putting him at greater risk of respiratory infection. Equine asthma is not spread between horses
  • It is a contagious disease.
  • Lungworm is an illness of the lower respiratory tract caused by the parasitic roundworm, which commonly results in bronchitis or pneumonia. Dictyocaulus arnfieldi is a kind of dictyocaulus. Because lungworms do not infect horses as a major host, they are generally only seen in horses that are pastured with donkeys. Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage (EIPH) is the most prevalent kind of pulmonary hemorrhage in racehorses. A bloody nasal discharge is not present in the majority of EIPH-affected horses
  • Nonetheless, coughing is typical as the horse seeks to remove the blood from its airways. For long periods of time, the horse’s ability to drop its head means that mucus, dirt, and debris cannot be cleared from their airways. Shipping fever is a type of bacterial pneumonia that can occur when the horse’s head cannot be dropped for an extended period of time and therefore cannot clear the mucus, dirt, and debris from their airways (e.g. if tied-up during long-distance transport). It is possible to develop severe pleuropneumonia, which can be life-threatening if the fever is not treated promptly. Ascarids: The equine roundworm (Parascaris equorum), which is usually only an issue in horses under three years old, emerges in the stomach before moving to the lungs, where they cause significant inflammation. As horses age, they acquire a tolerance to roundworms, and even if they swallow the eggs, the roundworms are rarely the source of coughing in older horses. Infection with Rhodococcus EquiPneumonia: Rhodococcus equiis an infective bacteria that lives in the soil and can cause pneumonia in foals between the ages of one and six months. Foals become infected with the illness after breathing dust particles contaminated with pathogens. The bacterium Rhodococcusequiis is almost tough to remove once it has become established in the soil and will continue to pose a harm to future generations of foals.

Horse Cough Treatment

Coughing horses can be caused by a large variety of factors, which means that there will be a vast variety of therapeutic options available. It is recommended that horses suffering from influenza, herpes, or strangles be restrained for two days for every day they coughed over the previous two weeks. As a result, the healing period is twice as lengthy as the sickness itself. To be safe, you should consult with your veterinarian before embarking on a horseback ride too soon after the airways have healed.

Management modifications can reduce the risk of respiratory disease in horses; for example, keeping your horse’s vaccines up to date and consulting with your veterinarian about the most effective deworming procedures and treatments will assist.

The majority of horses that are prone to respiratory problems should be turned out on a daily basis, if not out all of the time.

Therefore, it may be important to avoid turning these folks out during periods of high pollen count / bad air quality in order to protect them.

  • In this vapour-releasing syrup or gel, you’ll find vitamins C, which assist to maintain immunological and respiratory function, honey, which is a natural calming agent, as well as peppermint and eucalyptus, which expand the airways to make breathing easier. Honey+C: A tasty syrup that combines honey, a natural soothing agent, vitamin C, which helps to preserve immunological and respiratory function, as well as thyme, licorice, and horehound, to provide a soothing and calming effect. This supplement helps to maintain respiratory health, especially during times of stress or sickness. In high performance horses, Zosfor is a powdered supplement that helps to maintain the health of their blood vessels. Natural super-antioxidant bioflavonoid hesperidin is included in Zosfor to help prevent cellular damage and preserve blood vessels, as well as vitamin C to aid in healing and vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting.

In the event that your horse is exhibiting any indications of respiratory issues, we urge that you seek veterinary assistance to treat any underlying lung disorders before adding any respiratory supplements to your horse’s diet to avoid further complications.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other issues you are experiencing with your horse, please contact the Foran Equine team, who would be pleased to assist you with your inquiries.

coughing when eating!

My mother’s older mare is coughing so badly when she eats her dinner, she doesn’t cough when she’s out in the field or when she’s eating hay, and we’ve watered down her feed very well, we’ve even changed it in case something was irritating her, and we’ve tried licks and other remedies to help with bad coughs, it sounds a little funny but the poor mare coughs so hard she passes wind every time she eats!

  1. When my TB finishes his breakfast, he coughs a lot. It’s because he has a dust allergy caused by the hay he’s been eating in his stable throughout the course of the night.
  2. If I wet his hay well, he doesn’t cough.
  3. Basically, I work the morning shift at the yard since my mother claims she can’t move the hay because it has been saturated (she won’t do anything that requires effort!).
  4. When it comes to dust allergies, I think it’s worth at least investigating the wet hay notion; elevating the bucket sounds like a little of an expedient remedy to me, even though she may indeed have a dust allergy.
  5. You may get around this by shaking out the biscuits one at a time and dousing them with water from a watering can.
  6. This method does not help for severe allergies, but it can make a difference for those who have something milder.
  7. Is it possible to substitute haylage for the hay?
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What should you do if your horse has a cough?

All horses cough from time to time during the warm-up. But what should you do if your horse starts coughing like crazy? Or if he is coughing in the stable? Which types of cough are harmless and when should you call the vet? Dr Cornélie Westermann from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht describes various different types of coughs and explains what you can do to help prevent them. ‘Coughing in horses is so common that many people have come to think it’s normal, but actually it’s not.’ Dr Cornélie Westermannis a specialist in equine internal diseases at the University Clinic for Horses (UKP) of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht and an expert in lungs and airways.

As a result, it’s unnatural for us to keep horses indoors.

This can irritate the airways and make them cough.’


As she explains, coughing is a defense reflex mechanism for the lungs that protects them from infection. This is because there are cough receptors in a variety of locations throughout the airways and lungs. In addition to dust particles, germs, mucus, and viruses, these sensors respond to other abnormalities. The horse coughs as a reaction to clear its lungs and airways of any debris that has accumulated. The ability to cough has the significant advantage of preserving the lungs. It aids in the expulsion of debris from the lungs and airways that does not belong there.

It is exhausting and requires a significant amount of energy.

Despite the fact that the lungs have a remarkable potential for regeneration, prolonged coughing can cause irreversible harm. That is why it is critical to treat a coughing horse as soon as possible and to eradicate the source of the coughing to the greatest extent feasible.’

The ‘I’m outside’ cough

Coughs in horses can take on a variety of forms. They might appear to be the same at times, and one cough can quickly transform into another. ‘The ‘I’m outside’ cough is the least dangerous cough, according to Dr. Westermann. Taking your horse out into the open air on a chilly day and getting to work results in a significant amount of cold air passing through the cough receptors in a short period of time. This provides an incentive for the lungs to cough. ‘It’s similar to going for a run on a chilly day with your own shoes.’ There is no need to be concerned about this type of cough.

‘When you do an endoscopy on a healthy horse’s airways, you will often detect a few pieces of mucus.

There’s nothing to be concerned about.’

Autumn cough

Because horses are generally confined indoors for extended periods of time throughout the fall and winter, more viruses begin to spread in the stables during these seasons. Many viruses are quite innocuous, and the cough that occurs as a result of them will usually subside within a few days. Mild exercise in the fresh air might assist to clear the mucus from your system. A horse with moist nasal discharge should be isolated from the rest of the herd for the sake of safety. If in doubt, you may always consult with a veterinarian.

Westermann is quite clear about when coughing should be taken seriously: ‘If your horse is coughing and also stops eating, is sluggish, and/or has a fever, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.’ When the horse coughs, a watery discharge will come out, indicating that the horse has flu or another viral infection.

The good news is that this does not happen very often.

Persistent cough while being ridden

It’s not a big deal if your horse coughs while warming up, but it’s not a good indicator if your horse continues to cough while being worked. ‘It indicates that his body is attempting to evacuate stuff from the deep airways and expel it to the outside,’ says Dr. Westermann. In this situation, it is critical to determine the root reason. A bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), sometimes known as a lung wash, is a straightforward and reasonably horse-friendly method of finding out. For this test, the horse is sedated, and the cough reflex is temporarily suppressed to prevent the horse from coughing.

A tiny balloon at the end of the tube is used to temporarily close off a part of the lungs.

This can be used to assess whether there is inflammation of the lungs or whether there is an allergy, among other things.

Equine asthma

Many horses are sensitive to dust and other airborne particles, which makes them difficult to handle. This can produce moderate coughing symptoms in some horses, but in more severe situations, it can result in severe equine asthma. Dr. Westermann explains that in horses suffering from equine asthma, there is an inflammatory response in the airways. It is activated every time the mucous membranes come into touch with an irritant or allergen, resulting in swelling of the mucosa. A prolonged cough can cause the muscles in the airways to thicken, resulting in less space for air to pass through.

  • Your horse will become out of breath as a result of this.
  • If your horse is struggling to take a breath, you may tell by observing how it is breathing.
  • A small amount of movement in the abdomen is OK, but not excessive.’ If a horse breathes more than fourteen times per minute when at rest, it is not a healthy situation.
  • The nostrils should maintain their calmness.
  • Coughing may become a vicious cycle, and therapy in the clinic’s particular steam chamber can help to break the cycle.
  • This substance is inhaled by the horse and helps to release mucus in the lungs and airways.
  • Mouth medications, inhalation masks, and other methods of administration are available for medications that dissolve mucus, suppress inflammation, or open up the airways.
  • However, if you do not address the underlying reason of the coughing, it will return as soon as you stop treating it.’

Irritated dust cough

In the opinion of Dr Cornélie Westermann, nine times out of ten, the horse coughs as a result of the environment in which it is housed. ‘If a horse does not appear to be unwell but is coughing in the stable, take him to the veterinarian. If he is coughing up mucus or yellowish slime, the source of the problem is almost often discovered to be in the stable management. This entails inspecting the bedding, seeing what the other horse owners are doing in the yard, determining where the hay and straw are stored, and other such things.

If a horse is exposed to dust over an extended period of time, it may develop a sensitivity to it that was previously not there.

Therefore, you should join forces with the other horse owners at the stables and collaborate on efforts to keep the stables as dust-free as possible for everyone’s benefit. The benefits of good cough control are well worth the effort; it results in significantly happy horses.’

Bird allergy

The veterinarian also recommends that you learn how to make your horse’s life more pleasurable by taking it step by step. ‘ It’s not healthy for the lungs if it’s too hot in the stables, so keep it cool. For horses, 10 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature. In general, a dust-sensitive horse will be less impacted when the weather is colder. The humidity of the air, as well as the elimination of ammonia, are important factors. Cough receptors are stimulated by the presence of ammonia. A dry cough may result as a result of this.

  • Despite the fact that a stable is a very pleasant location for birds, if you have a pigeon perched over your horse and it is causing him discomfort, the best thing you can do is attempt to remove it.
  • And even if you’ve got everything in place in the stable, if your dust-sensitive horse is forced to compete in a stall with straw bedding, it may suffer for several weeks as a result.
  • Equine influenza is a particularly terrible illness that affects horses.
  • Most horses like to be outside 24 hours a day, but there are those that require stabled quarters.’

Investing in healthy lungs

Dr. Westermann believes that horse owners frequently spend a significant amount of money on a variety of natural cough cures that have not been demonstrated to be effective. ‘My recommendation would be to put this money aside and use it to improve your barn management, such as by purchasing a hay steamer.’ If a horse’s coughing persists even after you have modified the way the horse is kept in the stable, consult a veterinarian. Lungs have a remarkable ability to recuperate, but persistent coughing will do nothing to help your horse’s alveoli recover.


When it comes to bedding, straw has been shown to be exceedingly dusty, according to scientific studies. Dr Cornélie Westermann explains that while straw provides for excellent soft bedding, it is also a source of dust. ‘ If you have a delicate individual who is allergic to dust, you would not force them to sleep on a straw bed. Wood shavings that are free of dust are a far superior choice. To be on the safe side, you should be aware that a significant amount of dust is emitted into the air while you are mucking out and spreading/shaking away sawdust.

In addition, don’t put a dust-sensitive horse in the stables where everything takes place and goes through.

hay and straw are commonly stored in the loft of a lot of stables.

A excellent tip is to hose down the corridor before you begin sweeping it.

In addition, if the weather is dry, spritz the container. It is already possible to achieve much success by using common sense. Collaborate with the other horse owners at the stables to keep the stables as dust-free as possible.

Cough-friendly feeding

The feed management field, according to Dr Cornélie Westermann, is one in which there is often a great deal to be gained. ‘ To find the best answer for each particular horse, you will need to conduct extensive research. Dry hay can be extremely harmful to horses with sensitive stomachs. A horse that has sensitive airways as a result of a past illness or cold and is required to elevate its head to a hay net containing 53,000 dust particles per milligram is almost certain to cough when exposed to the dust.

  • Whether or not the hay is placed on the ground or at an elevation, rather than in a hay net or rack, does make a difference in the quantity of dust that is breathed.
  • Furthermore, if your horse does not care the silage, you may soak the hay instead.
  • Before you feed it, soak it in water for 15 minutes first.
  • In addition, the soak removes nutrients from the hay, which is beneficial.
  • This is a simple yet efficient method of keeping your hay dust-free.
  • This has been demonstrated scientifically.
  • Despite the fact that a hay steamer is expensive, you get what you pay for.


It is critical to have draught-free ventilation in order to maintain a steady environment. It is simple to determine whether or not the stables are properly aired. Simply get a disco smoke machine for a few hundred euros, move all of the horses outside, and install the device where you would typically allow air to flow through. After then, observe where the smoke goes. Corinne Westermann says, “The air should flow through the stables so that it may reach all of the horses and stables.” A skilled stable builder will be able to advise you on the best method of ventilation.

If the entrance to the stable is towards the direction of the wind, a draught will result.

Air intake from beneath the eaves, along with ridge ventilation, will provide enough air circulation.’ The entire text of the essay was published in Bit magazine in November 2018.

For further information about the University Equine Clinic, please see the website of the University Veterinary Hospital in Bloomington, Indiana.

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