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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease In The Horse

Spring is upon us and with the increase in pollen and other allergens, those horses with prior respiratory allergies can flare, creating a life of misery for them and their owners.  Respiratory conditions impact a large percentage of horses, contributing to health problems ranging from poor performance to complete debilitation.  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one of the most common respiratory conditions affecting the horse, which can be frustrating to manage.  Just like other health conditions, the more we know and the earlier we intervene, often the prognosis is improved and management made easier.

Respiratory Disease in the Horse

Anyone that has owned a horse has probably experienced respiratory disease in some shape or fashion.  Much the same as humans, horses are prone to developing upper respiratory infections due to viral and bacterial invasion, but the two most common and troubling conditions affecting horses in today’s industry is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (reactive airway disease) and exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH).  Being a veterinarian working on horses, I have certainly encountered my fair share of COPD patients as well as EIPH athletes and feel a times that these conditions are becoming more prevalent.