What is Heaves?
Heaves is a very common respiratory ailment in older horses. This is also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD.) The most common clinical signs of Heaves include constant coughing, labored breathing as your horse exhales, and wheezing. These symptoms may be especially noticeable when your horse is eating or when too much energy is being exerted. Some horses are more predisposed to Heaves than others due to the way a horse is individually affected by the allergies they have to their environments. Heaves occur when dust, mold spores, etc. are introduced into a horse's environment or feeding programs.
Heaves are common because a horse usually has bedding made of straw, and if kept in a stall, they are surrounded by dust and pollen. When your horse is exposed to allergy-producing particles, the chemicals within their lungs cause their air-passage linings to swell. The swelling makes breathing extremely difficult, and your horse will begin to breathe two times the normal rate than they usually do. This quickness in-breath can cause weight loss and intolerance to exercise at the chronic stage.
How to Prevent Heaves
Prevention of Heaves starts with your horses feeding and environment both within and outside of their stall. Choosing the right quality of hay with the best nutrient values is of the utmost importance when caring for a horse with Heaves. Quality hay means that the hay has been properly cured in the field before baling. Properly cured hay prevents the implication of mold and dust forming.
Allowing your horse to feed outside can also be a preventative measure in regards to them inhaling particles of dust and mold spores. Sometimes Heaves is the result of a horse being too cooped up inside surrounded by irritants. Other times it can be due to the pollen that your horse is ingesting outside. It’s important to keep a close eye on all causes and to not just focus on the inside of the stall or just outside.
Is Heaves Permanent?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Heaves. But there are products on the market that provide your horse relief. Bronchodilators are helpful as they dilate the bronchial passages to allow for more airflow in and out of your horses’ lungs. Veterinarians can also use corticosteroids and antibiotics that will help prevent new bacteria from forming while your horse’s immune system may be struggling. However, these products can be very costly and difficult to maintain upkeep.
Preventative supplements are another great option for prevention and relief as they are less expensive and provide benefits within only a couple of weeks. When choosing the right supplement for your horse make sure to choose one that is high in vitamin E, as it is proven to increase immunity to help decrease chronic and constant lung infections.
Equine Medical and Surgical Associates offers a product by the name of “Heave Ho”, which allows your horse to improve their breathing in just 14 days. Heave Ho is an organic supplement that includes natural herbs, high doses of vitamin E, and balanced minerals. These herbs help in fortifying your horse’s immune system using phytonutrients. Heave Ho has been successful in opening airways, clearing mucus, and helps lessen coughing.
For more information on the benefits that Heave Ho has for the stress of your horse’s breathing issues, visit our webpage for a more in-depth look.