Persistent coughing. People with "heaves" experience, thoughts? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 10-05-2012, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Michigan
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Persistent coughing. People with "heaves" experience, thoughts?

One of the boarders horses started coughing a couple times a day beginning last Thursday. She had no temp, no runny nose, no other symptoms, just a cough here and there. We decided to give her a couple of days to see what she does. Her cough went away all together on Sunday, maybe into Monday but came back with a vengeance from Tuesday on. The past four days she has been coughing often. Its typically quieter while she is eating (maybe 5 coughing spells during her half a bale breakfast or dinner) but when shes resting, walking, moving of any kind its more frequent.

We called the vet to have him come out but he just chatted with me via phone instead and I told him her vitals and the story. He said for lack of better knowledge he'd call it allergies or heaves (COPD) but that other than trying some antibiotics "just in case" there isn't much he can do. As far as it being heaves, he knows the living conditions of my farm. Which is why he felt the wasn't much I can do. BUT there has to be a treatment for a horse with COPD, right? Other than getting them outside and not feeding them poor feed? My pasture is not dusty, the horses are ALL on 24/7 turnout, I have four different types of hay none of which are dusty or moldy and this particular mare isn't on a grain/feed so there isn't much left.

I did switch her to one of my other kinds of hay and have been watering it down for her, we'll see if that does anything but I dought it and so far (two days now) no difference.

I have very little experience with heaves. Way back when I was boarding my own horses elsewhere the stable was feeding my horses crappy moldy hay but the problem was salved when the horses were moved to my home and cared for properly. So does this sound like COPD? What could we try for her that we aren't already trying? (The vets in my area are great for not knowing what something is or what to do with this something) Allergies, is that possible? Some sort of fall allergy?
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post #2 of 4 Old 10-05-2012, 01:16 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jan 2009
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The barn where I ride at had a horse who had a persistent cough. It would get worse with exercise but could occur at any point throughout the day. No change in vitals and no other symptoms except for a cough. This went on for about a year before the vet diagnosed him with congestive heart failure.

It could be the start of heaves though. Here's a website that talks about heaves.
The Horse | Heaves in Horses Fact Sheet

"And somewhere in the northwoods darkness a creature walks upright. And the best advice you may ever get is: Don't go out at night..."
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post #3 of 4 Old 10-06-2012, 07:52 PM
Green Broke
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post #4 of 4 Old 10-06-2012, 08:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
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If you have been getting a lot of rain, the grass is full of mold spores. I see them in the spring when the snow melts, the grass has patches of what appear to be white spider webs but they're not. If the horse is coughing that hard you can try Zev or speak to the vet about a steroid, dexamethasone. It's fed full strength for something like 3 - 5 days then gradually tapered off (it's been a while). Zev is off the shelf and friends swear by it.
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