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Will Not Stop Coughing

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I traded my youngin for Baxter, a 14 year old show gelding, a couple months ago. He started coughing a few days after I got him. I gave him some time thinking it was due to my place being sandier than his previous home. Once he started to get a snotty nose, and I could hear fluid when he was breathing I called the vet. My dad had to take him the first time, so I'm not sure exactly what the vet did or what he said. He gave Bax a steroid and antibiotic shot and sent home one of each for me to give a few days later. It helped some but maybe a week after me giving the shots he started coughing again along with the snotty nose and fluid.

I called the vet back and he scoped Bax and sent it to A&M so they could test it. And while I have no idea what he actually has, the best I can understand is that it's some crazy infection that's very strong and normal antibiotics wouldn't help. Along with something that was swollen on one side, and while it isn't an issue at this time it will need to be watched. So he gave me another type of antibiotic that's much stronger and I had to give him one shot every day for the last week and a half. After half of the medicine was given I called and told the vet that he was doing great on it and is back to his regular self absolutely no coughing. Well this evening while getting him ready to tuck in his stall he started coughing again full force. And it's not just coughing, it's almost like he could be choking, head held weird, mouth open like he's trying to push something out. But it's not choke, and he was doing this the first time around. Tonight was the last night for the shot.

Is it possible this could be a hay allergy? Would that not show on a culture if they were looking for a infection? The last couple days he was kept in his stall due to the rain, I didn't want him wet when he needs to fight the infection off, and he was on Coastal hay when he usually gets free access to a round bale of Cheyenne hay. So no Cheyenne, no coughing.

I've watched this horse with his last owners for two years, and rode him twice before bringing him home and have never heard cough.

I'm calling the vet in the morning, but does anyone have any ideas? We have a show this weekend 5 hours away and he'll be spending January with his trainer before the stock shows start.

Edited by Sliding4Ever

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Was anything ever cultured?

Tempt. taken?

Sound like the vet tried to cover all basics, with steroid for possible allergy (heaves ), and an antibiotic for possible infection, without any definite diagnosis.

It is not the 'strength ' of an antibiotic, but whether the bacteria causing that infection are sensitive to it. No way of knowing that without a C& S (culture and sensitivity )

Without taking a temp, no way of knowing if antibiotics were given long enough (at least three days after temp and all coughing gone )

The horse needs a definite diagnosis, and specific treatment, instead of 'shot gun' therapy

What is his hay like, and did you try watering it?

So, he was on a round bale, when he was coughing? That alone sets a horse up for developing a dust allergy, as the horse can stick nose into the bale, and inhale dust.

Was he ever fed round bales at his previous home?

Certainly a secondary infection can develop to a dust allergy, as that extra mucous is a prime opportunistic place for an infection to start

Airway disease incidence in horses is higher where free choice round bales are fed. Horses with heaves develop over time, a heave line, caused by the difficulty in expelling air

It could well be your feeding practice, as opposed to that of his old home, and /or condition of that hay

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Here is a link you need to read, esp the part on ROA

Does that difficulty in expelling air, sound like your horse?

Here is one paragraph, to get you started and thinking of answers:


Observation from a distance of a horse with heaves allows the
observation of cough, nasal discharge, increased respiratory effort, and
weight loss in severe cases (see Fig. 1). Respiratory distress is expressed
in ‘‘heavey’’ horses by nasal flaring and increased abdominal contraction
(Fig. 3) and, less frequently, by an increased respiratory rate [4]. RAO-af-
fected horses change their breathing pattern and typically have a rapid in-
spiration and a forced prolonged exhalation. The exhalation is a biphasic
process, with a rapid collapse of the thorax first and then an abdominal lift at
the end of exhalation, which increases with the severity of the case (see

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The first trip he was not cultured. Vet was hoping that was all he needed. The second trip they did do a culture and sensitivity test. He gave me the papers with the results but I don't know what i'm looking at. And he gave me the antibiotic that responded the most which is Baytril. I think he was on it since the 18th and he finished the last shot of that last night, which is when he started coughing again. His temp has been fine. Still eating and drinking normal. He's not ever out of breath, and he doesn't get any worse when he's being worked. The vet at first thought it could be OCPD but he said it doesn't usually show this time year, and he doesn't get worse or out of breath when worked.

I realized after thinking more that unless it is the dust in the hay, it may not be the actual type of hay. He was still on it when the Baytril started and he quit coughing. I'm pretty sure he was given square bales at his previous home. I'm not sure how I can water the hay down, he has free access to it since we do not have much grass at all. I'd think it would get moldy before the two horses could finish it.

I called the vet's office this morning to let them know what's going on and they had me pick up another vial of the Baytril which should last another 3-4 days and some type of mega benadryl that he gets twice a day.

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I feed round bales in the winter, but not free choice.

I fork it off. Any outer wrap is discarded.

With just two horses, very easy to fork hay off, instead of just parking a bale out there. Yes, it is not the type of hay, but the dust and mold that is the problem

If you have to feed a round bale free choice, then put a slow feeder net over it, so the horses can't stick their nose into the bale, breathing in the dust

I'm surprised that your vet seems to think winter is a lower risk time for OCPD, as that is when horses are on hay, versus pasture, and many horses are even stalled

So, he never ran a temp, even before antibiotics? That is unusual if he had a respiratory infection, plus the fact that he started coughing again, before he had really been off of the antibiotic

I think you are going to have to change the way you feed him his hay

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