Coughing, breathing problems

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Coughing, breathing problems

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    11-13-2009, 10:38 PM
Coughing, breathing problems

About two weeks ago, my trainer called with an emergency call about my horse. He was panting hard, like he'd just run like 10 miles. He hadn't been running though, he was just standing there, and it stayed this way for several hours. He had a temp of 102. My trainer called the vet, and she advised us to give him banomine, and something else that I didn't catch, and that did help overnight. She came out the next day and gave him two shots of antibiotics, put him on mild steroids for two days, and a bottle of cough syrup to be given until the bottle ran out. After that ran out, we are keeping him on antihistamines until it's pretty much winter and the weather is done changing.
Anyways, it was almost like he was having an asthma attack.

He has had a cough every now and then ever since I got him. By that I mean, he'll cough once or twice while riding sometimes, but it's only like once a month at most. We treated something to do with the cough about a year or so ago at my old barn, but I later found out that (as I was preparing to leave that barn for various reasons) that trainer was notorious for not giving all the medicine and saving it to use on her horses. So I don't know if he ever got the full treatment for that.

The vet said that when she listened to him breathing, it sounded like a POSSIBILITY of an early onset of COPD/heaves/whatever. At this barn, the horses are turned out as much as they possibly can be; they are only brought inside if it's REALLY cold, storming, or when it's really hot in the summer. Otherwise, they're outside 24/7. When they are inside, the barn is VERY open and well ventilated. The stalls have open tops, open metal hinged stall doors (don't know what they're called), etc. She said that at the old barn, his lungs might have been irritated because it was not well ventilated at all, and they weren't turned out much. Also the only arena we had was an indoor, so it was pretty dusty all the time.

He seems to have fully recovered, at least back to the way he was before this episode. I rode him today, and he was absolutely fine at walk/trot. I cantered him a little and he coughed once. Then cantered a little bit more just to see what he'd do, and he was fine, no more coughing.

He is in very good shape, and hardly gets out of breath even with hard jumping lessons, so it wasn't from running in the field or anything.

Do you guys think he'll be back to the way he was before? Will the cough ever completely go away? I know I can't get any definite answers on a forum, but thoughts would be nice. I used to ride him pretty hard, 6 days a week, WTC, I'd ride down to the local store, or to my friend's house as well, and he was always fine with that. That was at least a mile+. Galloping through the fields, etc.

Will I still be able to go back to doing all that with him? :{
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    11-13-2009, 10:49 PM
If it is heaves it is something that often does not go away. Heaves comes from moldy hay and the spores that they breath in sit in the lungs and cause the coughing. I would get your vet to pin down exactly what is wrong because as far as I know heaves do not get better.

If heaves are caused by anything else, please chime in people.
    11-13-2009, 11:46 PM
I should say that he isn't showing signs of any of the other symptoms, such as weight loss, lack of energy, and intolerance towards exercise. After walk/trot and some light cantering today, he wasn't any more out of breath than usual. Really not at all. He had tons of energy, and WANTED to run. He actually seems to have put a few pounds on with the two weeks off of recovery, and hasn't lost any weight at all really since I got him almost two years ago.

He doesn't cough frequently by any means. Every now and then he'll give like, one cough, but it isn't all the time, and it's usually before we even start trotting. Occasionally after trotting a couple minutes. He doesn't really ever cough after cantering.

He DID have a fever when he had the breathing issue two weeks ago, whereas horses with COPD don't generally have a fever.
    11-15-2009, 07:28 PM
I would certainly keep an eye out but it sounds like he's doing fine. My pony, Peanut developed Heaves last spring. It was misdiagnosed and got worse before we got him to a "good" vet. He seems to have residual issues as he just isn't very active anymore. So if your horse has lots of energy and pep without showing difficulty breathing it's good. :)
    11-17-2009, 07:52 PM
Update: I went to see him today, and as usual he ran away in the field. So I free lunged him out there for about 25 mins trot/canter. No coughing out there. Seemed just fine. However when I took him into his stall to tack up (it was raining, so I couldn't tack up outside) he ate a few bites of hay and coughed this nasty sounding cough about 3-4 times. It sounded like there was a lot of junk in there. I went ahead and did some light riding, WTC, and he was fine mostly. Coughed one normal sounding cough. Then when my trainer was giving her lesson in there, he coughed once just standing there. Also, I trotted him a few steps and he coughed again after that once more, so I just quit.

I'm calling our main vet tomorrow to see if she'll come listen to his lungs.
On the upside, his breathing was normal, and he had plenty of energy.

It's sounding more like a respiratory infection to me than heaves really.. What do you think?
    11-17-2009, 09:51 PM
It's hard to say. It's possible sticking his nose into a pile of hay could bring on coughing whether he has COPD or not. Good idea to get the vet to check him out.
    11-18-2009, 12:32 AM
Since he isn't showing continuing signs of breathing issues (he wasn't out of breath at all today, except after running from me in the field for a good half hour, which is normal for him) if I get a cough suppressant, would I still be able to ride him like normal?

I'd think I would, since he has plenty energy, and his breathing/stamina seems to be just fine.. You think?
    11-18-2009, 10:17 AM
Sounds like he's ok to me. I'd ride him as usual and just keep an eye out for unfamilar issues. If you feel uneasy then a vet check might be a good idea..

I give my pony w/heaves MSM daily. It's an anti inflammatory and it seems to help him. Doesn't hurt anyway. ;) I also have Animeds Ani-Hist(I think that's what it's called) that I give him when he's a bit uncomfortable. I just have to guess sometimes..
    11-19-2009, 03:01 PM
Like was mentioned earlier, I would put him on MSM. Not only is MSM an anti-inflammatory but it also is good for all types of connective tissue in general. It's good for lung tissue and airborne allergies. Make sure to use OptiMSM though...lots of products on the market, but quality makes a big difference.
    11-19-2009, 09:19 PM
Thanks for the suggestions.
Update: I rode him today, he was WONDERFUL. Plenty of energy, plenty of get up n' go. After about 5 trot steps, he coughed once (only once), a pretty normal cough. This is normal for him. After that, he didn't cough again. We rode WTC, and jumped a little 6" vertical a couple times just to see what he'd do. He was absolutely fine. My friend had to ride two horses, so I stayed on him and decided to try the bitless bridle just to see what he'd do. He used to get all strung out and icky in it but today, he dropped straight down into a long & low frame (on his own ^__^) at the trot and also a bit at the canter.

Worked him in the indoor ring as well. The outside track is watered but the middle is a bit dusty. Even when a little dust was kicked up, he wasn't bothered by it.

Have been riding bareback since the zippers on my tall boots are being fixed. His movement is much more free and flowy this way. I am going to try to keep it mostly bareback until I can get a saddle fitter out and see if I can get my saddle fitted and reflocked.

All in all: Today was GREAT. In all aspects. :)

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