The Science Behind Equine Nasal Strips

While some studies support the use of equine nasal strips, others have yielded less promising results.

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The Science Behind Equine Nasal Strips
Photo: Erica Larson/The Horse
For athletic horses sporting increasingly popular nasal strips, the phrase “winning by a nose” carries new meaning. Research studies evaluating these accessories’ efficacy, however, have produced mixed results.

“The proprietary FLAIR nasal strip has been extensively studied and has several distinct benefits for exercising horses,” said Howard H. Erickson, DVM, PhD, emeritus professor of physiology and history of veterinary medicine at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Manhattan. “At least eight studies have been conducted over the past decade to show exactly how nasal strips work, and there are more than a dozen publications that support the effectiveness of (nasal strips) in reducing exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.”

Equine nasal strips are designed to prevent the soft tissues of the respiratory tract from “caving in” and decreasing airway diameter as the horse inhales.

“The premise of the nasal strip is that the three plastic support members apply a springlike force to gently support the soft tissue overlying the nasal passages during inspiration, particularly where the nasal passages are not supported by bone,” Erickson explained

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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