Is Your Horse a “Roarer”?

Is your horse making an unusual roaring or wheezing noise when in training or at rest? Have you heard your horse excessively coughing, sneezing, or snorting? How about nasal discharge coming from your horse? 

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, your horse may be in need of a rebreathing exam or an upper respiratory assessment. 

In a respiratory assessment, your equine veterinarian will inquire about your horse’s history and may conduct a rebreathing exam. This exam involves putting a bag over the horse’s mouth and nose for approximately one minute to cause carbon dioxide to build up, triggering the horse to take deeper breaths. Once the bag is removed, the horse will generally take even deeper breaths, which may enable a more definitive examination of the horse’s lungs. 

If additional diagnostics are required to identify a suitable treatment, your equine veterinarian may conduct an upper respiratory assessment to examine the upper airway, larynx, and guttural pouches of a horse. Roaring or wheezing in horses can be due to left laryngeal paralysis or hemiplegia, dorsal displacement of the soft palate, or less commonly epiglottic entrapment, which surgery can generally repair these causes. 

Infection associated with Streptococcus Equi Equi or a strangles complication can cause the formation of chondroids, or balls filled with puss, to develop in the horse’s guttural pouches, which can be detected in an upper airway endoscopy. To treat the infection, frequently the guttural pouches will be flushed. Although chondroids may not produce symptoms of sickness, horses can still pass the disease to one another. 

Your equine veterinarian will discuss with you if further diagnostics are required to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your horse. Other diagnostics may include blood work, thoracic ultrasound, dynamic endoscopy, or bronchoalveolar lavage depending on the clinical signs exhibited. 

Consult with Atlantic Equine Services to schedule an evaluation if you think your horse may be experiencing symptoms.

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