Cough, Sneeze, Wheeze: Managing Equine Seasonal Allergies

A few ways to manage seasonal respiratory allergies in horses.

It’s late winter, and if you’re a little bit susceptible to allergies, you may be starting to feel, well, sniffly. Horses, too, can suffer from seasonal allergies. If you notice a cough that comes on seasonally and does not seem to worsen with exercise and he has no signs of a cold or other illness (discolored nasal discharge, for example), chances are your horse is reacting to his changing environment. Here’s a few ways to manage seasonal respiratory allergies in horses:

1.) Soak the hay. Although it may not be the reason for the coughing, soaking hay cuts down on extra dust that can irritate a horse’s airway.

2.) If you can, identify what’s irritating the horse and remove it. Some horses are allergic to weeds and grasses that are prevalent in different seasons. Keep a record of what grows in your pasture during each season to begin to identify the allergens.

3.) Some bedding causes allergies. Change from a natural wood product to a shredded paper to see if he improves.

4.) Add more turnout. If you horse spends a lot of time in his stall, try more pasture time to see if this helps.

5.)Believe it or not, some horses are allergic to hay. You may need to replace his hay rations with pelleted complete feed.

Heaves and other chronic respiratory illnesses are treatable with a combination of an equine inhaler and Flovent, a medicine used to treat human asthma. Check with your veterinarian about testing for and treating seasonal allergies that can’t be managed environmentally.

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