As many of you may now be thinking of stabling your equines and also feeding hay, COPD may well be rearing it’s ugly head.
COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, commonly known as ‘heaves’ , Recurrent Airway Obstruction(RAO) or referred to a lot in France as ’emphysema’.
This respiratory disease affects many equines and the severity can vary from very mild symptoms only noticeable when exercised to, at the other end of the scale, being life threatening. In human terms it is very similar to someone suffering from asthma.
Some signs to look out for – trouble with breathing, a cough, visible heave line on the flank, wheezing, nasal discharge, inability to exercise, accelerated breathing rate.
Main Causes– allergy to mould spores and dust in the horses environment.
What should you do? – if you suspect your equine has COPD then firstly consult your vet who will diagnose and treat with the correct drugs, if necessary. It is important to rule out lung infections. Keep the equine outdoors. Feed haylage or grass nuts instead of hay, or soak hay/steam thoroughly if no alternative. Dampen feeds. If there is a need to stable make sure its well ventilated, use a low dust bedding such a rubber mats,shredded paper or dust extracted shavings.
As long as COPD is managed by responsible care, many horses can continue to live and work normally. There are various supplements you can feed to help with the management of COPD but it is important to get a correct diagnosis from your vet first.