heeves help - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 07-15-2008, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Wisconsin/Illinois border
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heeves help

I have a 23 year old horse that every summer gets a case of the heeves. At least thats what the vet calls it. I think it is some type of allergy because it only happens in the summer. I have been giving him anti-hist and antibiotics. Does anyone have any suggestions on what else I can do to help him. Thanks
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post #2 of 4 Old 07-15-2008, 11:55 AM
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Wetting the hay and if he's stalled wetting the bedding to cut down the dust may help.

If it's just a summer problem it may be more of an allergic reation to something, beit dust or pollen. The only way to pin that down would be to do a panel of allergy tests.
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post #3 of 4 Old 07-15-2008, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you

I already do wet down his hay. I keep him outside as much as possible. I just thought if anyone new a anything else I could give him to help him.
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post #4 of 4 Old 07-15-2008, 01:57 PM
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Heaves is a reaction in the lungs where the bronchiolles constrict and become inflammed and produce lots of mucous when irritants are encounter. Irritants can be pollens, dust, fungi, molds, etc--it depends on the horse as to what types of things trigger it. You are kinda right in that it is believed that allergies can trigger an attack of heaves, but heaves itself is much more than an allergic reaction--it's sorta like asthma.

So, anti-histamines may help prevent an attack, but they will NOT treat and attack. And antibiotics are completely useless for treating heaves becuase it's not an infection. Since your horse has attacks in summer, it's likely that much of what causes attacks is plant pollens. It can help to dry lot horses with this problem during the summer months, but then you also need to be sure and serve hay soaked---leave it in the water otherwise it dries out quickly and the irritants become airborne again within minutes of removing it from the water. And dampen the ground to help minimize dust in the pen.

When an attack occurs, you need to treat immediately and appropriately with bronchiodilators and steroids. The faster you treat, the fast symptoms will resolve and this reduces the risk of permanent changes in the lungs that will make the bronchiolles more constricted even when your horse isn't having an attack. Talk to your vet about keeping at least a little steroid on hand to start treating as soon as you see an attack.


Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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