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Recognising and managing dust allergy in horses

A horse suffering from dust usually has less stamina. The nostrils are a bit open, the horse coughs and you can see the belly going back and forth a bit more often than normal. That means the respiratory rate is higher. There are roughly two things you can do against dust allergy: improve your stable management and give supplements.
Multiple studies show that the measures you take in your horse’s environment to prevent dust are the most important. Supplements to support the respiratory tract can be used afterwards if the problem has not yet been completely resolved. Therefore, always start by optimising your stable management!

Tips against dust

To minimise your horse’s exposure to dust and thus reduce respiratory problems, you can do the following:

  • Putting the horse outside a lot instead of in the stable
  • Give mould-free hay with little dust in it
  • Soaking the hay
  • Consider other bedding
  • Clean and dust the stable thoroughly
  • Only litter the box when the horse is outside
  • Do not sweep or blow when the horse is stabled

Herbs ease lung problems

There are a number of herbs that can soothe lung problems. Often, these herbs work by ensuring healthy mucus production in the ‘capillaries’ of the lungs, the bronchi. Thanks to good mucus production, the cilia present there can do their job properly. These cilia remove unwanted substances such as particulates, bacteria and viruses and keep the lungs clean. Herbs that contribute to this include eucalyptus, echinacea and schisandra. Eucalyptus acts antibacterial on several types of streptococcus bacteria that are often implicated in pneumonia and coughs. Eucalyptus is also proven effective against several influenza viruses. Echinacea sp has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has been proven that this herb can boost the immune system of horses, stimulating resistance and immune response. A study on the effect of Schisandra chinesis on respiration in endurance horses showed that this Oriental herb lowers baseline respiratory rate and respiratory rate after exercise. This indicates that lung capacity increases with the use of this herb. The resting heart rate was also lower, so the fitness level was better thanks to Schisandra. Finally, black cumin can also support lung problems. This ancient natural remedy is a powerful anti-inflammatory and also works against viruses. It supports the metabolism and the immune system.

Omega 3 fatty acids against coughing

Besides an herbal supplement, taking Omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial for coughing and dust allergy. In a randomised, blind study with horses suffering from lung problems and asthma, a supplement containing polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids was found to have a good effect on top of a diet low in dust. The horses were given the omega-3 supplement for two months. You can find omega-3 fatty acids, for example, in salmon oil for horses.

Also read:



Salari, M.H., G. Amine, M.H. Shirazi, R. Hafezi en M. Mohammadypour. 2005. Antibacterial effects of Eucalyptus globulus leaf extract on pathogenic bacteria isolated from specimens of patients with respiratory tract disorders. Research Note, Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

Zili Zhai, Yi Liu, Lankun Wu, David S. Senchina, Eve S. Wurtele, Patricia A. Murphy, Marian L. Kohut, and Joan E. Cunnick. 2007. Enhancement of Innate and Adaptive Immune Functions by Multiple Echinacea Species. Journal of Medicinal Food.

Nogradi N., L.L. Couetil, J. Messick, M.A. Stochelski, J.R. Burgess. 2014. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Provides an Additional Benefit to a Low-Dust Diet in the Management of Horses with Chronic Lower Airway Inflammatory Disease. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Van Zyl, Janke. Evaluation of the ergogenic potential of two feed supplements in endurance horses. 2014. Dissertatie University of Pretoria.

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