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post #1 of 15 Old 02-16-2010, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Heaves

My vet today told me my miniature has heaves. He's already outside as much as possible. His hay isn't moldy, and I can't water it down while it's this cold outside because it'll just freeze. I've tried giving him a coughing supplement called Cough Free, but he won't touch it. Is there pelleted cough supplements out there?
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-17-2010, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by whitetrashwarmblood View Post
My vet today told me my miniature has heaves. He's already outside as much as possible. His hay isn't moldy, and I can't water it down while it's this cold outside because it'll just freeze. I've tried giving him a coughing supplement called Cough Free, but he won't touch it. Is there pelleted cough supplements out there?
I feel for you. Heaves is a horrible thing, my horse has it. It never gets better and there is no cure. As the horse gets older the worse it will get.

Soak your hay for 5minutes, because even though you can't see the mold or dust, it's in there. I soak my mares hay, and a thin layer of ice covers it but it's nothing to make the horse stop eating. If you soak it you will be doing your horse a huge favor down the road.

Once your horse starts to belly breathe I would get some steroids, they help open your horses throat. And he will breath better, but that should be the last resort.

If you can, lock him in his stall, he will eat it if he gets hungry enough. Or sprinkle it on his hay, that way if you do that he will atleast be getting a little. The only kind of cough medicine I've seen from the store is in powder form.


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post #3 of 15 Old 02-17-2010, 09:23 AM Thread Starter
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Once your horse starts to belly breathe I would get some steroids, they help open your horses throat. And he will breath better, but that should be the last resort.
What's considered belly breathing?
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-17-2010, 09:45 AM
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Belly breathing is when you can very visibly see their belly "heaving" in and out as they breath. Kind of like when a horse has exercised and is breathing hard.

My pony, Peanut was diagnosed last summer with Heaves. My vet gave him 2 things for this. I can't remember the names and do not want to mess up, one was Dex tho. After that round of treatment I gave him MSM twice daily as MSM is an anti inflamatory. It sometimes works well by it'self. I also gave him something like cough free but will have to check the container. He seems to be fine in winter. Therefore his must be allergy induced. My vet said he may never have another episode or he may continue periodically or it can develop into full year round heaves. This usually happens due to the damage inflicted due to the Heaves. Also known as COPD..

You might try to camouflage the cough free by any means necessary. Does he like peppermints? Crush some up with the meds and feed it in with his regular feed. If you don't have a feed to mix with you might consider something that will help camo the meds. Just keep trying. IF you have to, mix it with jelly or applesauce and put it in a syringe, without the needle of course. Ya do what you have to to get it in them. ;) Best to ya.

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post #5 of 15 Old 02-17-2010, 10:03 AM Thread Starter
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He mostly wheezes. It's not very loud, you wouldn't notice it if you weren't paying attention. Occasionally, he'll have a deep cough, but I've never heard it. My friend who comes to feed her horses at the same barn claims she has. He's very alert though, and otherwise a happy mini. He was actually quite mad at me though when he found the cough free in his feed and flipped it across the stall. Then kept looking at me like, "This is a joke, right?" :roll:

I got him from an auction 4 months ago, so it's quite possible he could have already had heaves. I heard of people pouring a bit of pancake syrup on the feed along with the supplement to get them to eat it. I guess I'll have to bring it next time I'm out there and try it. I tried mixing it with a handful of sweet feed and chopped carrots, he wouldn't touch it. His usual feed is senior feed, but there's not enough molasses in it to make it sticky otherwise I don't think it would've been a problem. Lol

Last edited by whitetrashwarmblood; 02-17-2010 at 10:08 AM.
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-17-2010, 12:32 PM
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I had a mare (now deceased) who had severe COPD (heaves) for years before she died of something unrelated.

She was on Tri-Hist pretty much all the time, and also got Prednisone when she was doing that "belly breathing" that was mentioned above. Also had some rounds of SMZs (antibiotic) for suspected infection in the lungs and airways.

My mare wouldn't eat extras in her feed either so it had to be syringed.

Soak the hay and don't worry about the ice crystals that form on it. I live in a very cold climate but that's just the way it had to be because even if the hay seems "fine" there is a lot of dust you can't see.

My mare had to be stalled a lot also because she would go absolutely wild if she got flies or bugs on her. Her stall had to be kept damp with a garden hose when she was in.

It gets worse as time goes on but there are a lot of things you can do to manage it. Some days I couldn't ride because she was having difficulties, but other days she was fit as a fiddle and you'd never guess there was anything wrong.
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-17-2010, 04:47 PM
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Someone told me to use a cooking oil spray to help powders adhere to feed.. Just spray the feed, sprinkle the powder on and give it a shake. I thought that was a great idea. It sounds like you may be able to use msm successfully as he's not having a lot of trouble breathing.

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post #8 of 15 Old 02-18-2010, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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The syrup worked. :)
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-18-2010, 10:18 PM
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If you can wet her hay down at all and serve it wet, it will really help. You may also want to try a daily dose of antihistamines as it's believed that there is an allergic component that helps to set off the attacks.

Steroids should NOT be your last option. They are actually an important part of treatment and control. Antihistamines are not an appropriate treatment for attacks. Steroids and bronchiodilators are the standard treatment choices because there are 2 different reactions going on during an attack---inflammation and excess mucous production are treated with steroids, the airways in the lungs constrict down and this is treated with bronchiodilators.
Getting appropriate treatment as soon as possible when a horse starts having more trouble breathing is extremely important because each attack allows for possible permanent narrowing of the airways thus making subsequent attacks more severe and even making daily breathing harder.

The Horse | Management Key to Preventing Heaves in Horses
The Horse | Heaves Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention: AAEP 2008
The Horse | Video - AAEP 2008: Heaves

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-19-2010, 10:50 AM
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if you can't water the hay, at least take it outside and shake it around, tear it loose. Then gather it up in a big bucket and feed it to him. At least a lot of the dust will blow out.

Also if you can feed him on the ground, it helps. Feeders are really hard on them, as their nose is in the hay/dust and they have to breathe it.

Can you feed him outside on the ground?
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