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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1204
Experience:  Board Certified Equine Surgeon, Lameness and Sports Medicine Specialist DVM, BSc
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I have a 9 yr. old mare I've had yrs, she is in barrel

Customer Question

I have a 9 yr. old mare I've had for 2 yrs, she is in barrel training but every time I ask her to canter it takes about 3 strides and she starts coughing and, all most pulls me over her head. she used to do it at a trot but now it is at a canter.I have had a hard time getting rid of all the worms she was infested with. She came from Wy. and they did try to run her until they flipped her in the gates. is it possible that they blisterd her lungs or maybe lung worms? I'm lost here.
Thanks Kathy
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 6 months ago.
Hi Kathy,Sorry to hear about the trouble you are having with your mare. I can help you but I will need a little more information about your mare1. Does she cough just when you start cantering and then she is alright after that?2. What dewormers has she been given? When was she last dewormed? When was her last fecal egg count done?3. Has she ever had a cough following your barrel runs or some blood from either of the nostrils after your runs?4. is she fed from a round bale?5. Does she ever have trouble catching her breath after a run or coming in from a canter in the paddock? Do you notice her having increased effort to breath?Looking forward to your reply. Cheers
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I stop cantering because i'm concerned i'll hurt her.
Equamax (Un sure spelling) and safe guard 1 mon ago
has not had a fecal egg count
She is not running yet, just slow work.
Eats alf. in feeder twice daily
Does not seem to have a hard time catching her breath but has always breathed heavy.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
That's all I have
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 6 months ago.
Thanks for the additional information, It sounds like your horse may very likely have a mild to moderate case of heaves (aka recurrent airway obstruction, equine COPD). Damage from worms migrating through the lungs is also possible but given the history, it is not as likely. Heaves is a inflammatory condition of the lungs that results in restriction of air flow through the small airways in the lungs. At rest, most horse with mild heaves don't show much - maybe some heavy breathing compared to a normal horse. As the disease progresses, the heavy breathing becomes more pronounced at rest and then you start to notice the performance issues such as coughing when you begin trotting or cantering. It sounds like your mare is somewhere between mild to moderate. To confirm this you would need a vet to come out an listen to the lung fields, perform a lung ultrasound and then possibly a BAL (bronchioaveloar lavage - basically sample the cells from the lungs to confirm if this is heaves or infection or worm migration). Provided your mare does not run a fever ( anything over 101.5 F is a fever), then heaves is more likely than an infection or worm migration. If you can get the diagnosis confirmed, then you can look at treatment options. If this is heaves, then the first plan of attack is to remove any round bale feeders or get a net for your round bales so that the horse cannot stick their head into the hay and breath in the dust, pollens and spores that incite this condition. Next is to ensure a low dust environment - outdoor turnout as much as possible, minimize dusty arena workouts, wet down the hay when feeding if possible. These management practices will significantly improve the condition in many cases. If management alone does not work, then your vet may look at starting a course of airway medications such as ventipulmin (an airway dilator) and/or they may recommend some corticosteroids to decrease the inflammation. With treatment, you should be able to get your mare into training and decrease the issue you are having with the cough. The prognosis is generally pretty good, however, this can be a progressive disease and some horses will get worse even with treatment. It is important to catch this now. I also think a fecal egg count would be a good idea in general as you do have some concern with the previous deworming history, but I would say that lung migration and damage is more rare at causing this type of issue. I would restrict the exercise level to walking for now until you can have a vet out to check and confirm the diagnosis. In the meantime, you can institute those recommendation I had and that will help to decrease the airway inflammation. Hope this is helpful. All the best
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thanks but I am not satisfied, she is not in a barn, just a over head cover! Does not eat out of a round bale! And to have heaves she would do this at a extend trot! She can long trott in deep sand and not cough so I disagree with you! Sorry
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 6 months ago.
Ok, It may not be heaves, certainly there are other possibilities. If the infestation with worms was really heavy and they were ascarids (round worms), then lung migration would be a possibility and the scaring would result in a cough. To confirm this you would still need a BAL to look for the eosinophils (type of white blood cell associated with worms and some allergic reactions in the airways that can be indicating of worms). Blood work may also show elevated eosinophils which would help guide you to whether this is worms. Without hearing the horse's lungs directly, it is difficult to tell what is happening exactly. If you chose to try and just treat for worms, then it looks like you have already used an ivermectin product and then safeguard so you could repeat the ivermectin (equvalan, equimax etc...) at 3 week intervals twice (so over 6 weeks) this would ensure that you kill the current adults and then the secondary baby worms that come from the eggs that would be currently present. The general worm life cycle is about 3 weeks so this protocol tends to work decently. In addition, it would be a good idea to treat with a dewormer that also have praziquantel in it such as equvalan gold or quest plus. This will ensure you eliminate the tape worms if they are present.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 6 months ago.
I can opt out of the question and see if any of the other vets would like to make some suggestions.

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