Respiratory health is crucial to your horse's well-being!

Breathing in horses is an amazing process that allows them to cope with the demanding demands of their active lifestyle. Their adaptability and efficiency in terms of breathing are fascinating characteristics of these wonderful animals.

Horse owners and stable operators should be aware of the special respiratory requirements of horses and ensure that the environmental conditions in stables are designed to promote breathing and the general health of the animals. This can help minimize respiratory problems and sustainably improve the horses' quality of life.

Horse breathing can be significantly influenced by environmental conditions, including stable conditions. Here are some special features:

    1. Dust and air quality: Stables can be dusty, which can affect air quality. High levels of dust in the air can cause respiratory problems in horses, especially horses with sensitive respiratory tracts. It is important to minimize dust in stables by cleaning regularly, using fresh bedding and ensuring good ventilation.
    2. Respiratory problems: Some horses are more susceptible to respiratory problems, such as hay allergies or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can be made worse by poor air quality in stables. Horses with such problems may require special care and medication.
    3. Exercise and fresh air: Horses are naturally running animals and require regular exercise and access to fresh air to promote their breathing and well-being. Stable keeping should therefore ideally be combined with daily exercise or grazing.
    4. Infection control: In stables, infection can easily spread from horse to horse. Therefore, it is important to maintain stable hygiene, carry out regular vaccinations and isolate sick horses from healthy ones.

    Respiratory diseases in horses can be caused by various factors. These illnesses can range from acute infections to chronic problems. Common causes of respiratory disease in horses can include:

    1. Infections: Infections are a common cause of respiratory disease in horses. Bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause respiratory infections. Examples of such infections include rhinopneumonia (a disease caused by equine herpesvirus), influenza, streptococcal infections and fungal infections such as aspergillosis.
    2. Allergies: Some horses may be allergic to certain substances, including dust, pollen, or mold spores. These allergies can lead to respiratory problems and often manifest as allergic bronchitis or asthma.
    3. Environmental influences: The air quality in the horse's environment can have a significant impact on respiratory health. Dusty stable conditions, poor ventilation and increased exposure to pollutants can cause or worsen respiratory problems.
    4. Overexertion and stress: Excessive physical exertion, especially in untrained horses or under unfavorable conditions, can lead to respiratory problems. Stress can also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.
    5. Pollutants: In some cases, horses can develop respiratory problems from smoke or inhalation of harmful gases (e.g. from fires).
    6. Genetic predisposition: Some horse breeds are more susceptible to certain respiratory diseases due to their genetic predisposition. For example, warmblood horses are more susceptible to allergic respiratory diseases such as equine asthma (also known as COPD or RAO, Recurrent Airway Obstruction). These horses may be more sensitive to environmental allergens such as dust and mold.
    7. Feeding errors: The type of feeding, particularly the quality of the feed and the amount of starch in the ration, can affect respiratory health. Certain foods or feeding practices can trigger or worsen respiratory problems.

    Diagnosing and treating respiratory diseases in horses often requires the collaboration of a veterinarian. This may include identifying the exact cause of the condition, prescribing medication to relieve symptoms, and suggesting management changes to prevent further problems. It is also important to consider preventive measures such as regular vaccinations and a healthy environment to minimize the risk of respiratory diseases!

    Did you know this about your horse's breathing?

    • Respiratory Rate: An average horse breathes approximately 8-16 times per minute at rest. However, during physical exertion, the breathing rate can increase to up to 150 breaths per minute.
    • Huge lungs: Horses have surprisingly large lungs relative to their body size. Their lung capacity allows them to take in large amounts of air to meet the high oxygen demands of their muscular bodies while moving.
    • Nasal breathing: Horses are primarily nasal breathers. The nose not only absorbs air, but also filters, humidifies and warms the inhaled air before it enters the lungs.
    • Impressive Oxygen Absorption: Horses have the ability to absorb significant amounts of oxygen during physical exertion. Your oxygen consumption can increase 10-fold during training or competition.
    • Alveoli: Horse lungs have millions of tiny alveoli that allow gas exchange. These alveoli have a total area of ​​about 70 square meters, which is about the size of a tennis court.
    • Flat Nostrils: Horses have surprisingly small nostrils compared to their size. However, these nostrils can expand significantly to accommodate more air when engaging in strenuous physical activity.
    • Healthy Respiratory System: A healthy horse can move up to 80 liters of air per second when breathing normally, supporting its efficient oxygenation.
    • Cough reflex: Horses have a strong cough reflex that serves to clear foreign bodies or mucus from the respiratory tract. This reflex is important for maintaining respiratory health.