Coughing in Horses Explained

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price

Horses can cough up a lot in winter because they are so busy indoors. This is especially true for those horses who live in barn-style stabling which could lead to them spreading an infection.

This is due to the fact that horses are more likely to get a respiratory infection from colder temperatures or condensation.

What causes coughing in horses

Winter coughs are usually caused by an infection or environmental factors. However, in some cases, there may be a viral root cause.

The most common environmental causes are dust, mould, and spores found in hay and bedding. These get into the lungs, causing inflammation in the lower airways. This can lead to a cough or irritation that can cause infections.

Infections, such as streptococcal, can spread by coughing and sneezing. This is especially true if there isn’t enough air turnover.

Low temperatures can cause horses to exhale very small droplets that can get deep into their lungs.

Higher temperatures can filter larger droplets by the turbinates in a horse’s nose or head. Affected horses can spread viruses like influenza through phlegm and snot.

What are the signs and symptoms of coughing?

Horses cough during exercise If a horse starts coughing but then stops, it is most likely an environmental problem. However, if the cough persists, it can indicate the presence of a serious infection.

Phlegm can be found outside the horse’s doors or on the ground of the stable. This could indicate that he has a productive, chronic cough.

Signs that you are in general ill health
Horses with a depressed appearance, high temperatures or eating problems could have a respiratory infection.

Coughing in Horses Explained

Nasal discharge
A problem can signify a nasal discharge. These are the signs that something is wrong.

Clear or White: Don’t worry, just keep an eye out for his breathing
Yellow from both nostrils: It could be an allergy or strangles. Call your vet if you are concerned.
Yellow from one nostril: This is usually a sinus infection, or tooth abscess. Call the vet.
Red: An advanced infection that is likely to have originated from the respiratory tract.
How to stop your horse coughing
These quick tips will help you reduce the risk of your horse getting any respiratory disease this winter.

How often do you clean your bedding? If it is shavings, you don’t want it to get dirty so often. The wet helps prevent dust from building up.

Consider alternatives to straw if your horse is sensitive to dusty bedding. These include Aquamax, Verdo and Bedmax.

Avoid mucking about with your horse in the barn. Instead, tie them outside or place them in a different stable for ten minutes.

To avoid your horse breathing dust, soak the hay for five minutes. It is important to feed your horse the hay immediately after it has been soaked.

Many people make the error of soaking their hay in morning and then giving it to themselves at night.

This is almost worse than not soaking it all. Hay sits slightly damp all day and provides the perfect environment for microbes growth.

If you have the budget, a hay steamer might be a good option. Haygain, Steam ‘n Easy, Happy Horse, and Happy Horse all get our thumbs up in the area of hay steamers.

Hay steaming has been scientifically shown to kill all dust spores found in hay. This helps to prevent respiratory problems.

Although it has been used to dampen the spores in the past, it is not a complete solution.

A hay net can dry out spores and make it difficult to feed a horse. It is always best to feed horses in their natural grazing positions. This allows for more efficient drainage.

The stable of your horse should be well ventilated and, if possible not near the hayroom.

Cobwebs can help you determine how ventilated your stable. Because spiders hate ventilation, if they are sharing your stable with you, it is likely that your horse needs more air.

We all know how much we love to sweep. It’s therapeutic, to be sure, but there’s nothing more satisfying than a clean yard.

These people are not the only ones who feel this way. Think about what your horse will feel if you blow his way.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!