When A Cough Is More Than Just A Cough

Though people can cough to simply clear their throats, horses cannot do the same: A coughing horse is an indication that something is not right; the horse may be afflicted with equine asthma.

Equine internal medicine veterinarian Dr. Surita du Preez and researchers from the University of Adelaide created a study to help determine the frequency of equine asthma and risk factors for the disease in Australian horses. They were also interested to find out of the wildfires that had ravaged the country had increased number of horses that have asthma.

Equine asthma in other parts of the world has been well documented; studies of racehorses have shown that 57 to 80 percent of horses have mild to moderate asthma and 14 to 20 percent of horses may have a severe form of asthma. Asthma in horses results in poor performance as the horses are unwilling to exert themselves.

The scientists feel that if the prevalence of asthma in horses in Australia can be determined and if the risk factors for development of asthma can be found, veterinarians will be able to better manage affected horses and possibly prevent the disease from developing.

A survey was sent to horse owners that included questions about their horse’s health and management, including feeding and housing, as well as the horse’s primary use. Respondents were also asked about bushfires.

The scientists will use a scoring system to record the results and to establish the likelihood of asthma. Mild to moderately asthmatic horses may cough or have nasal discharge. Severe asthma affects middle-aged to older horses and is a progressive disease; left unmanaged it can result in severe obstruction of airflow and breathing difficulty. Thus far it is unclear if the bushfires have worsened equine asthma in the country.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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