If you notice that your horse is breathing harder or louder than normal, your vet may recommend an upper airway exam with scoping. Like in dogs, some horse’s develop laryngeal paralysis, also called “Roaring”. This happens when the flaps that open and close around the trachea become paralyzed and the larynx block the opening to the airways. This can cause your horse to wheeze or breathe heavier. Using the upper airway scope, your vet can evaluate your horse’s respiratory tract, nose, and larynx.

Horses over the age of 6 years can also develop respiratory issues that is due to allergies. Known as heaves or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), heaves effect the lungs by causing the tissue to constrict, eventually obstructing the airway. Most owners will typically first call out their vet because they notice that their horse has developed a cough or that their horse has a tough time bringing their respiration rate and effort down after exercise. Using the upper airway scope your vet can collect fluid samples in a procedure called a BAL,  or bronchoalveolar lavage, which collect cells from the fluid in the respiratory tract and can rule out heaves.

Strong, clear upper airways are key to performance and general well-being. Your 3H Vet can diagnose your horse’s ailment and design a treatment plan to get them back to feeling their best.

Symptoms of upper airway disease include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Respiratory noise while exercising
  • Intermittent bleeding from the nose
  • Persistent nasal discharge

A thorough evaluation is the right course of action.