Signs of choking in your horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-02-2012, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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Signs of choking in your horse

Possible chocking. I have checked my horse for an obstruction and have found non by paplation (I have however owned him only since December 2011) and he may have choked in the past ... What I am noticing is that after he eats he gets 'snotty' and small amounts of hay seem to be coming out of his nose. I do know he's usually on antihistimes in the spring because of allergies and it's getting close tot hat time of year here in WA state. He doesn't seem to have any other symptoms and did great at a clinic this weekend, I have just noticed more nasal discharge and today noticed in both nostrils. My trainer was at the clinic with me and also expressed concern. He has no visible symptoms of choking and is eatting fine as well as voiding regularly.
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-02-2012, 02:42 AM
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My gelding choked once. Freaked me out. His symptoms were...

Snotty nose, green goo (alfalfa)
Stretching his neck down to the ground
Loss of appetite for the time-being

"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with
him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."

-Samuel Butler
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-02-2012, 03:18 AM
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Sounds like the common cold to me. Remember that taking your horse anywhere or keeping them at a boarding facility is the equivalent to taking your kid to preschool, they're gonna catch germs no matter what. Monitor his eating and drinking and if nothing else symptom wise shows up he'll be fine.

The bits of hay are most likely coming from the hay pile and sticking to his snotty nose.

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post #4 of 10 Old 04-02-2012, 09:12 AM
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The scary part about a horse who truly chokes, is that there isn't a whole lot that we can do other than keep them calm. Horses cannot vomit or regurgitate, which means they have to cough to try and dislodge whatever is there. And coughing becomes a problem because their airway becomes compromised. It is hard for a person to breathe when they have something in their throat...can you breathe while you drink? It's a limitation so that we don't aspirate (breathe in) our foods. As well, when a horse coughs if food is only brought up to the pharynx they could inhale it...which may complicate things.

A couple other signs are excessive's amazing how much they can drool. As well as an increased heart rate, which is typical when in distress.

It's kind of hard to do the heimlich on a, so don't wait too long to call the vet.
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-02-2012, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Ok so what made my trainer think of chocking is that the Friday before we were leaving he came in from his paddock and was shaking. It was a really cold and windy day here and he had gotten off the wool cooler I had put under his winter sheet a couple of days before and it was wet so they couldn't put it on him. He has a history of allergies as well but this was dark green snot. HE's allergic to Alfalfa so he's only on Local and Timothy with a huge amount of grain and Beat plup etc as he tends to drop weight in the winter and he's a school horse (besides being my baby!) and NEEDS to keep the weight on. The green pieces were way up into his nose however when I shifted the nose around I didn't see anything up in the pink area just down in the lower area. (I"m a PTA by trade so snot and stuff doesn't bother me!) Any other ideas or helpful hints as to what it might be would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-02-2012, 11:13 AM
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How is he today? Any changes?

I don't think the shaking was related to choke, you don't seem to either. That sounds like he was cold. I recommend feeding more hay as the digestion of hay creates an enormous amount of heat and will help keep him warm. It doesn't have to be good hay, just low in dust for his allergies.

Have you tried soaking the hay to remove the dust? This might help his allergies a ton. If soaked under 20 min(I think, it's been a while since I read that study) it won't change the nutrient levels in the hay at all.

Usually a horse won't continue to eat if he's choking, I really don't think this is choke. He may have inhaled some hay dust in his nose and snorted it back out, and he may have a cold or allergies.

The questions you need to ask are:
-Is he eating normally?
-Is he drinking normally?
-Is he pooping normal stools and a normal amount?
-Does he have a fever?

Get back to us on how he's doing.
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-02-2012, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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I am wondering if he has had a choking episode in the past and if that might be the issue. He does however have major allergies including alfalfa, flies and enough he needs antihestimes. I'm thinking I may need to restart that.

I have not tried watering his hay, I board him. He eats local and Timothy. Dudnt notice a lot if dust but will check when I go to the barn thus evening. He was great all weekend and performed well @ our extreme trail clinic. Only thing is he didn't want to stop or stand still on Sunday. That though, could have been my anxiety seeping into him. ;+)

He drained his water bucket, ate all his feed (grain and hay) ans eliminated like usual. His fav is to try to poop on me with grooming. Onus he rolled as soon as I turned my back on him after grooming!!!

I'll let you know how he's doing after I see him. Thanks for all the help.
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-02-2012, 05:06 PM
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I have no personal experience with a choking horse, but from what I do know, once they do choke, they can be prone to further episodes. Especially if it was a bad choke, it can leave the esophogus (spelling?) with scar tissue making it more difficult for them to swallow. It wouldn't hurt to soak his hay to soften it making it easier to chew and swallow, also if he has allergies it will keep him from inhaling the dust, so soaking can help both issues. Also, it would be a very good idea to soak his feed, if you aren't already doing so. You say he gets grain and beet pulp. The beet pulp is ok because it is fed soaked already, but you may have to rethink the grain, soaking may not make this any easier to chew and swallow. You may have to go with pellets or something that can be soaked into a mash like consistency like the beet pulp. Obviously if you were to change the feed you would have to make any feed changes gradually to reduce the risk of digestive upsets/colic. Another thing that may help, if you stay with the dry grain, is to put a large smooth round rock in his feed tub to slow down his intake, he may chew his feed more thoroughly then.

Just some thoughts, I hope they can help out some.
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-03-2012, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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Update: Went up to the barn today to talk to barn manager. She is familiar with what a choke looks like, and all that as well as my horse. He does have allergies and stuff here was blooming while it was snowing! it's so bad MY allergies are acting up. A helpful thing to know is first wipe out the lower part of the nostril really good then go up as high as you can and wipe the nose there. (yuck I know) For me the lower part was green, sticky and yucky, however the upper part I could reach was dry and just a little dirty/dusty. That means that stuff wasn't coming back up the wrong way and doesn't look like chocking. The plan:
Get his antihistimes ASAP
Water down his hay to slow him down
watch the snot and check again
since he's been a cribber well before I Got him we are going to try again to see if we can get that in check. HE wont crib where the water bucket it hanging so we are going to try using thick rope to weave between the metal bars. IF he does try to crib the rope it's better than cribbing on metal. He's got almsot no front teeth.
HE was his usually spirited self. Tried to walk off when I was mounting (oh he didn't like getting smacked for that one and made to walk backwards with me on the ground using one of my split reins as a slapper) and decided he would try NOT to walk thru mud puddles or give me a slow trot etc.... basically his normal snotty self LOL he really is a good boy. I've been riding a year this month and have owned him since December after starting a lease last June or July so all this is new to me. As I told my barn manager "I'm as green as the Timothy I fed him at the clinic'

Thanks for all the great advice!
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post #10 of 10 Old 04-03-2012, 02:10 PM
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So glad to hear he is okay and that it wasn't choke.

Watering down the hay and feeding on clean rubber mats placed on the ground will help his allergies tremendously(don't ever feed him higher than his chest or the dust from his food will go right down his nose). Also, adding local honey to his grain or hay will help him build up a natural immunity to local allergens(this works for humans too!)

Best of luck to you both,

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chocking , hay , obstruction

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