Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dealing with Equine COPD

Dealing with Badger's COPD is a constant. The signs came on slowly and seemingly enough fairly innocuously.

There seems to be very little literature on WHAT to do for an Equine [in my case a mule] while they have it.
Badger is not a classic case in the sense that he was never stabled. But he did get into some poor hay last spring. Of course that was our own fault, but until he showed a huge reaction to it, we had no idea.

Now days with heavy humidity, high pollen [think ragweed right now~it is abundant], and the molds from the long wet summer...he has shown many days of stress.

Long term meds are not the answer.

However, I do deal with it by insuring that on hot humid days with heat warnings such as we are having today, that I move him into an area with plenty of shade and open air.
He is not surrounded by noxious weeds in this small but grassy area.
A shower with the water hose does seem to help with his comfort.

I know his vital signs. I am also familiar with his new 'normal'.
I am keeping him off hay and out of weedy areas. This seems to really help him.

There is no cure. Just maintenance at this point. He won't ever do tough trails or another endurance ride.
But on good days, he can be ridden. In fact, he enjoys it. He loves to be ridden and it is a wonderful job for him. It helps maintain his musculature and keep his lungs healthier.

However, this disease has only one outcome for equine in the end. Each day is a blessing and I try to keep a positive outlook.
Badger has not lost 'condition'. He looks wonderful and some days you really have to look hard at him to realize he has COPD.

A good article to read is called Respiratory Conditions in Horses. It has a detailed explanation of this disease and is helpful as it has charts and drawings explaining the disease.
If your horse/mule has this disease, it is worth bookmarking and referring to.

For now, I enjoy our time together.
He is a good mule and a good friend.


mj said...

This is a very nice, informative post. Thank you for that.
When I was young a friend's horse had what she called heaves. Is that the same as COPD in equine?
Badger does look happy. You are so right when you said that it's hard to tell that his health is compromised just by looking at him. I hope that this fall the temperatures are kinder to him and that he can get out for a little ride now and then.

Val said...

Heaves and COPD are now being grouped together. Heaves is a lung disease which is serious for horses.

Of course there are many different levels of lung disease for equine. Badger is sadly in the non-reversible COPD stage.

Even at rest he has an elevated respiration rate.

Management is the key, I think to this now.