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This is a discussion on cough within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    11-16-2008, 01:35 AM

There seems to be a cough working its way through my herd. One of the geldings got a cough that would not go away in September, the vet said it sounded like it was upper respiratory, and gave him antibiotics, making him better. None of my other horses got it.

BUT....a pony of one of my 4H kids did get it from coming out here and riding, well, that did get to my other horses. My 6 year old gelding got it, but kicked it on his own. The 20 year old pony and our 20 year old gelding got it, but could not get rid of it. After about two weeks, I had the vet out again. There were no upper respiratory sounds this time, but it was was an exercise induced cough (as soon as they began to trot. She gave them antibiotics...the gelding seems to be better, but the pony still has a slight cough (not nearly as bad). NOW...our colt has been coughing. Our 9 year old mare, and TB gelding do not seem to have been affected yet.

I will say, that they did not get their vaccines until mid-October this year...when this cough thing was already spreading about the herd. Also, I have been struggling with their nutrition, so this may have made their health more susceptible.

Any thoughts?
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    11-16-2008, 10:31 AM
Well, since Equine Herpes Virus causes 80% of upper respiratory infections in horses and it's a cough lasting a couple of weeks, clearly infectious since it's spreading through your whole herd, etc I would bet that that is what you are dealing with.
    11-16-2008, 04:19 PM
Wow...the vet did not even mention anything like that. What is done about it?
    11-17-2008, 12:18 AM
Basically, you quarantine sick horses and monitor them for changes that would require veterinary treatment---high fever, lethargy, going off feed, thick nasal discharge, labored respiration, etc. And provide good nutrition because that is where the body gets is energy and building blocks for building defenses against disease.

We don't have any good way to treat viral infections, they end up running their course or being fought off by the body. And without blood work or collecting nasal swabs it's impossible to say exactly what it is, but we just shouldn't treat these colds so nonchalantly. By doing so we put every horse our horses come into contact with at risk of getting sick--and not every horse will end up with a mild infection so we may lead to someone having a huge vet bill or even loosing their horse.

It doesn't surprise me that the vet didn't say much about it, because for years these little "colds"/upper respiratory infections haven't been taken very seriously by vets/breeders/trainers/owners. They've seemed like more of a nuisance than a real problem because your horse just coughed and was a little off for a few weeks, but we are really coming to understand how serious these viruses can be. A mutation of EHV has caused lots and lots of trouble for veterinary facilities, racing stables, show barns, etc in the last few years because the mutation causes serious and highly contageous neurological disease. And Influenza, one of the other common causes of respiratory infections in horses destroys the cilia---little hairs that line the resp. Tract and serve as a physical barrier to invading infectious organisms, irritants, debris--and it takes weeks for these cilia to regrow leaving your horse's body at a decreased ability to defend itself from airborn infectious organisms.

Here are a couple of articles for you to check out:
    11-17-2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks for all of the good info. Ryle!
    11-20-2008, 09:38 PM
Try French's yellow mustard.. it's an old trick and inexpensive.. always helps my horses when they have the cough...
    11-21-2008, 03:10 PM
Originally Posted by jmjackson712    
try French's yellow mustard.. it's an old trick and inexpensive.. always helps my horses when they have the cough...
What exactly does one do with the mustard?

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