Listening to Your Horse's Lungs

Listening to Your Horse’s Lungs

Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price

The sounds your horse makes while he is breathing can also tell you a lot about his health.

Lung sounds can tell a lot about your health, just as they can tell you if your horse is healthy. Advanced respiratory distress horses emit wheezes and rasps that can be heard by the unaided ear. You will need to be able to use a stethoscope, and have some proficiency with it, in order to hear subtle signs of troublebrewing. You will learn to recognize unusual noises if your horse is healthy. A cheap stethoscope that can listen to the adult lungs is available at most drugstores is ideal for listening to your horse’s breathing. Canine and pediatric stethoscopes are more expensive, but they won’t pick-up the low-frequency sounds that normal equine respiration.Your horse’s breathing sounds can tell you a lot about your horse’s health.

Place the horse in a calm area away from the barn and wind. For a standard-sized horse, position the stethoscope 5 inches behind the horse and 7 inches above your elbow. This is just behind the horse’s girth or below the saddle flap if the horse is wearing an English saddle. You will hear healthy lungs making gentle, soothing sounds similar to someone smelling hot soup. The soft sounds of healthy lungs can be difficult to discern amid the horses’ inner thuds and gut gurgles. To make the horse’s lung sounds audible, you can cause him to take deep breaths. You can have a helper pinch the horse’s nostrils to prevent him from inhaling for more than 30 seconds, or until he objects. He will take several deep breaths when the horse pulls away, which he almost certainly will. This is when you will hear the amplified sounds of the lungs.

Listening to Your Horse's Lungs

You will learn how to distinguish the sounds of your lungs and listen out for any other noises than the steady flow of airflow. Any of the above noises can be a sign of respiratory disease.

Loud sounds across a large area. Lung noises can only be heard in a small area of the chest wall, usually around 3 or 4 inches. You may have a congested lungs if you hear the noises blowing over a greater area.

Makes a gurgling sound. This is a sign that your lungs are clogged with fluid.

Uncharacteristic silence. While you can hear the sounds of normal lungs, this time you hear almost nothing. This indicates that your airways aren’t active. This rare silence is a sign that the horse may be in distress.

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