Strange respiratory problems

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Strange respiratory problems

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    03-21-2012, 07:21 AM
Super Moderator
Question Strange respiratory problems

A friend of mine asked to post the story of her horse's health problems here, in hope that somebody will be able to share similar experience or any ideas at all, because she's tried everything now and is quite at loss.

This is Radis, her horse -

Radis is a 10 years old gelding. He has a "parrot mouth" (the upper jaw goes over the lower jaw), a couple of missing front teeth after a pasture accident and an incorrect bite. He puts on weight very slowly and is hard to keep it.

He's been living in a 24/7 pasture board since February 2011. Before that, he was kept in a stable overnight. Until that, he had no history of any respiratory problems, coughing or anything alike. However, in October 2011, when the horses were moved to the winter paddock, he was first seen coughing. A vet came, did an endoscopy and discovered some scarring in his trachea. He was prescribed a 10 day course of silicea30 (a homeopathic remedy) and a month of complete rest.

However, after a month the coughing was still there. The vet now prescribed pulsatilla 200c, three doses with an interval of 12 hours. After that, Radis was still observed coughing from time to time with no regularity. The coughing has always been "dry", with no sputum, runny nose or other such symptoms. He was started on light working, but in December 2011 the owner noticed that Radis had started breathing a bit heavier than normal.

The vet came, listened to the horse's lungs and found no problems, however, in the beginning of January 2012 his coughing became worse and now regular. Radis was prescribed silicea200c, three doses with an interval of 12 hours. During January Radis was also given natrum muraticum30c and ehinacea30c for his immune system and skin, because he developed light rain rot and some lice were discovered on him.

In the beginning of February he had light colic. Then, for about two weeks, the coughing dissapeared and was not seen or heard not a single time, but at the end of the month it suddenly returned again and Radis started breathing heavily. The vet came and found out that Radis was breathing and his heart was beating two times faster than normal. Radis was then prescribed three doses of lycopodium200 in an interval of 12 hours and gradual increase of lunging and riding.

Additionally to daily feed (free-range good quality hay, good quality oats 2 times a day), Radis gets also Iceland moss and, when it doesn't conflict with the homeopathic remedies, different phytotherapeutic herbal mixes.

Now, he is still coughing heavily and starts breathing heavy fast when working. Still, he has lots of energy, seems content, moves willingly with the rider and also in free movements, out in the pastures. The last few weeks he's had loose stools, in which incompletely digested hay can be observed.

He isn't allergic to dust (of which there is little), the temperatures have varied a lot, he doesn't seem sensitive to rain and wind, and none of the other horses present similar symptoms. One of the vets has made a guess that he might have something anatomically wrong in his airways, but, to check that, an operation has to be done. We also have just a few competent horse vets around here and the owner is really running out of options.
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    03-21-2012, 07:41 AM
Has the vet done a nasal swab or blood work?
    03-21-2012, 07:53 AM
Super Moderator
No, he hasn't. The horse's main vet is the leading one in our country and his opinion was that these checks would be unnecessary. However, the owner has now decided to get another vet to do them as soon as possible.
    03-21-2012, 08:13 AM
Green Broke
This sounds like COPD, and although homeopathic remedies can help with symptoms, they aren't a cure- I would look for something more medicine and proven to help. I use homeopathic remedies on my dad's mare, and on my old horse to relieve stiffness- but its not a cure.

COPD, correct me if I'm wrong, is like asthma for horses. I would soak the hay for less than half an hour- that way any dust IS elminated but the nutritional value remains pretty much intact, especially if he is a hard keeper.

Even though he may not be allergic to hay dust, it could be aggravating it.

As for working, right now, I would stick to walking on the lunge, or in hand, just to see.

A mare at our yard had this problem, and within 2 months using a nebulator, has few issues and is in ridden work again. However, the owner took advice from the vet to carry on workig, which worsened the lungs.

I'd get a second opinion from a different vet to give a clear diagnosis of whats happening.
    03-21-2012, 08:14 AM
Green Broke
Also, has the horse seen an equine dentist recently, to help with the parrot mouth?
    03-21-2012, 08:20 AM
Super Moderator
He is seeing a dentist on a regular basis, but there is still a long way to go to help him completely. The next floating will be in May of June.

Thank you for your ideas, Duffy, I'll let the owner know.
I just did some reading on COPD and found out that it is common with stabled horses. The strange thing is - Radis developed his problems since he's been 24/7 pasture boarded - no stable at all for more than a year already.
    03-21-2012, 08:23 AM
Green Broke
Just a wonder ;) I have a friend who is an equine dentist and that would be his suggestion lol!

No problem Saranda.. I just think if there is lung damage or airway restrictions working him in anything more than a walk could do further damage, but then still allowing him to walk will allow anything to loosen off.

Wish your friend the best of luck though- horrid when our lovelies get ill!
    03-21-2012, 08:38 AM
Super Moderator
Thanks, Duffy, she'll aprecciate your wishings and help. :)

A random idea - might there be any possibility that his breathing problems are somehow connected to his teeth and mouth?.. It is said that he has a softer hard palate than usual.
    03-21-2012, 09:03 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Saranda    
Thanks, Duffy, she'll aprecciate your wishings and help. :)

A random idea - might there be any possibility that his breathing problems are somehow connected to his teeth and mouth?.. It is said that he has a softer hard palate than usual.

Hmm the palate might be something. My dog has severe allergies and her palate will swell and restrict her breathing. If that is the case there would be an underlying cause to why it would swell and the best thing is to keep calm so exercise would be a no. I am not sure if horses can have this problem though.

I would definitely have him checked for allergies though as that can cause all kinds of problems. And just because you can't see dust doesn't mean it's not there.
    03-21-2012, 09:05 AM
Super Moderator
The latest news from the owner is that Radis has been diagnosed COPD, however, the less he works, the worse he coughs and breathes, so his workload is gradually (and reasonably) increased. It seems to help his breathing. The owner will also consult the vet about using a nebulator, but it will be possible to use only in two weeks time, when the current homeopathic treatment ends, because otherwise the remedies used may conflict.

Thanks for your input, poppy. The palate and allergy thing is really to be considered.
As for the dust - we live in a wet place and wet climate. Dust, of course, is possible everywhere, but the surroundings are not the most characteristic to be dusty.

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