What should I do for a horse with heaves?!? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 11-03-2011, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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What should I do for a horse with heaves?!?

Hi, this summer i just got my first horse, Moon. right before we got him he was diagnosed with "heaves". He has been fine until just recently he has been coughing more. It dosent seem to slow him down at all, but I feel bad he coughs so much... that can't be comfortable for him. I do have a decent amount of horse knowledge and have been keeping him out as much as possible and feeding him outside too. So I just have a few questions. Is there some thing else I should be doing? Is there any herbal remedy that could help? Could this become serious? If it could, what symptoms should I look for? Is there anyway to completely get rid of it?

I would be gratefull for any help on this!

Last edited by MOON16; 11-03-2011 at 04:06 PM. Reason: i forgot a guestion!
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post #2 of 19 Old 11-03-2011, 05:26 PM
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You cannot get rid of it, but you do want to look after it so it doesn't get worse.

Your vet should be able to help you with any medication they feel will help control and ease the cough.

What you can do is check your hay and wet it down if there is ANY dust in it. Adding apple cider vinegar to his water and/or feed will help a bit with the cough. I had an older QH mare and these two things helped her a lot.
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post #3 of 19 Old 11-03-2011, 05:29 PM
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Hi there Moon16!

Congratz on getting your first horse. There are some recommendations I can make for you. First off, do as much research on heaves as you can, the more you understand about it, the better.

I would recommend to put him on 24/7 turnout. Keeping him indoors the smell of ammonia from urine and dust from bedding will irritate him. Being outdoors (and NOT in a dusty dry lot) will be the big one that will make him feel more comfortable.

Second, you can soak his hay (or talk to your barn owner/manager if you board about doing this) to minimize dust particules. Feeding from the ground will offer a natural grazing position and has its benefits (both hay and grain) to minimize the chance of him inhaling irritants. It's an idea because I know some facilities use hay nets or raised feeders.

You can talk to your veterinarian about keeping him at an ideal body weight (so he is not too heavy) as well as if he were to need anything like a bronchodilator to help keep him more comfortable if things do get worse for him. Your veterinarian will be a good source of information about the care for a horse with heaves.

Hope this helps you out. In my experience I have found many horses to do well for years with just those first two suggestions.
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post #4 of 19 Old 11-03-2011, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by VetTech2011 View Post
Hi there Moon16!

Congratz on getting your first horse. There are some recommendations I can make for you. First off, do as much research on heaves as you can, the more you understand about it, the better.

I would recommend to put him on 24/7 turnout. Keeping him indoors the smell of ammonia from urine and dust from bedding will irritate him. Being outdoors (and NOT in a dusty dry lot) will be the big one that will make him feel more comfortable.

Second, you can soak his hay (or talk to your barn owner/manager if you board about doing this) to minimize dust particules. Feeding from the ground will offer a natural grazing position and has its benefits (both hay and grain) to minimize the chance of him inhaling irritants. It's an idea because I know some facilities use hay nets or raised feeders.

You can talk to your veterinarian about keeping him at an ideal body weight (so he is not too heavy) as well as if he were to need anything like a bronchodilator to help keep him more comfortable if things do get worse for him. Your veterinarian will be a good source of information about the care for a horse with heaves.

Hope this helps you out. In my experience I have found many horses to do well for years with just those first two suggestions.
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post #5 of 19 Old 11-03-2011, 08:32 PM
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My wife's horse has it. Once they get it, they have it for life It's just like allergies or asthma. There is a steroid shot you can get from your vet. It's a small amount of steroid but it helps.

During the summer, it's not too bad. It can be bad the rest of the year. Wetting the hay can help and keeping the horse outdoors.

If you let it go, the horse will have labored breathing and can start wheezing. My wife would watch for when her horse would just start having a hard time breathing and give him a shot. Usually once a month. Since we moved out horses, away from a gravel road, and they are getting better hay, her horse hasn't coughed since.
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post #6 of 19 Old 11-04-2011, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, i will try soaking the hay if theres dust, and the apple cider viniger is one i'm going to try too!
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post #7 of 19 Old 11-04-2011, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Also, where I ride there is an indoor arena that seems like it would be dusty.
should I not ride in there at all, or if I put him on meds would the dust no lomnger bother him?
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post #8 of 19 Old 11-05-2011, 02:10 AM
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If they can wet the arena down before you ride, that would help. Being on meds helps but the dust can still affect him. I just wouldn't ride him hard in dusty conditions or do a lot of running and turning which would kick up dust.
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post #9 of 19 Old 01-17-2012, 04:48 PM
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My girl has the heaves as well. I give her beet pulp as and this seems to help her too. Like everyone else said, wet that hay down and make sure it is really good quality.

My vet has informed me that she can have a long life if you just watch and keep track.

Good luck!
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post #10 of 19 Old 01-17-2012, 05:06 PM
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Aside from what has been suggested, all I have to add is do not let him eat from a round bale. They stick their head into it and inhale all the dust/mold/whatevers in it.

Good luck!
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