Blog 2018-07-30T06:20:52+00:00


I recently read an article ‘Inflammatory Airway Disease in Horses – Its More Than Just a Cough’, written by Madalyn Ward, and published in Integrative Veterinary Care. The article explains some of the signs and symptoms of Inflammatory Airway Disease.

For many horse owners, hearing a small, occasional cough when their horse first starts to work does not seem like a big deal. But performance horse owners realise that low grade inflammation in the lower respiratory tract can cause trouble long before obvious clinical signs are apparent. A mild cough with a little mucous discharge might mean only a slight irritation that would respond to a few days of rest – but it might also be a sign of more serious trouble.

Coughing is not normal if it shows up consistently at the beginning of exercise, occurs spontaneously in the stable or during feeding, or reduces performance in any way. A persistent cough that lasts longer that four weeks is likely a sign of Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD). Other signs of IAD that may occur less consistently include fading at the end of a race, moving the jaws or swallowing after a cough, and reluctance to collect or flex at the poll. IAD should also be considered when horses show increasing reluctance to work for no obvious reason.

IAD has many and varied causes, and there are likely allergic, environmental, bacterial, and viral components to disease development.

Horses with the disease display a number of clinical signs, including:

  • Mild exercise intolerance
  • Intermittent cough
  • Nasal discharge
  • Abnormalities on lung auscultation (listening with a stethoscope), and
  • Tracheobronchial mucus accumulation.

It is recommended that veterinary advice is sought regarding the treatment and management of IAD.