August 28, 2020
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) aka Heaves
Poor Chance, my sensitive 22 year old Arabian was diagnosed with COPD this spring. He was coughing a lot this winter and spring; and not just a little cough. A labored, violent, knocks a loud fart out of him that echos through my neighborhood kinda fart. So we had the vet out to float his teeth hoping that was the issue; I was worried that he wasn't chewing well and could choke. He needed the dental work but after a few weeks he still was having some issues. I contacted them again so they gave us some Ventipulmin syrup to see if that was effective. We had him on that for about 14 days. He improved and seemed good for a little while, an occasional cough but nothing as regular and violent as before.
Then he got to coughing more and more; so one more trip from the vet and a final diagnosis....COPD, aka Heaves. I'm still learning a lot about what this is and how it affects him.
The Ventipulmin helps but eventually horses can develop a resistance to the drug and at $150 for a two week course it's a bit pricey. Environmental conditions are what seem to be the triggers for most horses. The hay this past year was not the best but sometimes you can't help that. One way to help with this is steaming the hay. For thousands of dollars you can buy a great steamer for your hay bales but who wants to spend that when were are tons of options for DIY below $200. My husband immediately went online to find the supplies and ordered them so we could make a steamer.
We are working on making better substrate around the barn, so the dusty dry clay that kicks up when we don't have a swamp out back will be curbed. He's been here for four years, so I really don't thing it's environmental, we haven't had big changes. The hay isn't necessarily the cause, Dani is not having issues, it's just some horses develop it from what I'm reading. He's 22 and not a 10 year old so this diagnosis to me is just part of the aging process.
I have done some research on some supplements to help with mucus and inflammatory maintenance of the pulmonary system and one of the best recommended supplements was Heave HO. Just the name alone makes we want to buy it! It's $68 for a months worth and that is much better than keeping him on the Ventipulmin. If he has acute occurrences we have the ability to give him that medication for a couple weeks as needed.
With summer time coming to an end I'm glad to report he's done really well on grass and his supplement. When there have been weeks I've had them on the dry hay, he hasn't had too many issues. I'll report once we start steaming hay this fall, here's hoping we don't hear any coughs from the old man!