Aug 042011

Respiratory Infections in Racehorses


Stable Cough refers to a syndrome affecting horses that start coughing when confined to a barn. The problem isn’t related to respiratory infections, although it does put the horse at a higher risk of developing one. Nasal discharges due to stable cough are more thin or frothy, as opposed to the thick, discoloured discharges associated with an actual infection. The stable cough is dry and hacking, which is caused by airway obstruction ( RAO). Once irreversible injury to the lungs has occurred, the changes begin to resemble chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in people. (COPD)

Some people dismiss stable cough as a minor problem, as long as the horse isn’t running a fever or sick. This is a mistake. If left untreated, ROA will progressively worsen and eventually cause permanent lung damage and found to predispose high performance horses to lung bleeding (EIPH)

Steroids, bronchodilators, and antihistamines are the cornerstones of therapy for respiratory problems. They also may have side effects.

A Michigan State University study confirmed that horses with heaves (COPD) have increased mucus accumulations in their lungs. The mucus response was also found in normal horses when exposed to common environmental irritants, like dusty hay. Antibiotics won’t help this. You need to target the mucus.

Cough/breathing supplements are found to thin the mucus, as do many highly aromatic substances. Mucolytes worth trying  to help a horse with  (COPD) Lung allergies, or stable cough include the following made up especially to treat these conditions by Catherine Cooper.

Breathing Formula: A blend of Chinese medicine that moistens and nourishes and strengthens delicate lung tissue there by increasing bronco-dilation and oxygen delivery, enhances immune system. Used for dry coughs, wheezing and bleeding.

Bleeding Formula: A blend of Chinese herbs traditionally used to stop  and prevent bleeding , also nourishing the lung and improving bronco-dilation.

Deep Seated Mucus:  A blend of Chinese herbs especially formulated to break up yellow,  sticky type mucus deep in the lungs. Designed especially for horses with chronic bronchitis.

Anti0xidant Supplements: Several studies have consistently shown reduced levels of antioxidant nutrients in the lungs of horses with ROA and COPD.  Supplementing horses with Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Selenium was effective in improving the levels of these antioxidants, as well as glutathione, and also improved exercise tolerance and inflammation in the lung.