Consider History, Environment When Managing Equine Asthma

Adjusting a horse’s environment and administering medications as needed can help some asthmatic equids return to function.

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managing equine asthma
Ensure horses with heaves live in an environment with good airflow and air quality to promote respiratory wellness. | Photo: iStock
On the surface, managing equine asthma—which comprises both recurrent airway obstruction (RAO, or heaves, an often-severe chronic condition common in older horses) and inflammatory airway disease (IAD, a mild inflammatory disease often seen in younger equine athletes)—might not seem too complicated: Modify the horse’s environment and treat, when needed, with corticosteroids and bronchodilators. In reality, however, it can be a real challenge.

At the 2017 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Nov. 17-21 in San Antonio, Texas, Melissa Mazan, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, a professor at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Hospital for Large Animals, in North Grafton, Massachusetts, reviewed how veterinarians can best treat and manage equine asthma.

Overall, treatment goals for both RAO and IAD are similar, Mazan said, but there are a few key differences

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Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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