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Home:Equine Diseases:Coughing



Coughs in horses can be due to allergic reactions to stable dust, pollen and viral infections. These can also result in long term irritation, causing coughs that do not respond easily to veterinary treatment.

A lethargic type of equine coughing could be a bronchial infection whereas a more vigorous cough is more likely to be an allergic type of cough.


  • bacterial or viral infection in the throat and lungs.
  • a blockage in the gullet or airway
  • allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to the dust spores in hay and straw.
  • seasonal allergies - this produces a mild seasonal cough which does not seem to get any worse with exercise
  • Influenza
  • imbalances in the immune system


There are many ways to tackle equine coughing but it is always a good idea to see your vet. If you notice the coughing early enough, you may be able to prevent your horse having to take medication at all. However, if the cough has gone beyond the initial stages, your vet may give an endoscopy (after exercise), a tracheal wash and TTA, or a BAL and lung function test to determine the cause of the cough. Depending on the cause of the cough, a bronchodilator may be prescribed followed by treatment with anti-inflammatories.

One of the best approaches in the treatment of equine coughing is to boost the immune system to help the horse get rid of the causal agent himself. There are many herbal treatments to help with this. The herb Echinacea will help to boost the immune system. It is an antiviral, antibacterial, immune-boosting herb. Most herbal companies can supply products containing Echinacea. If your vet prescribes antibiotics, Echinacea will enhance the action of antibiotics. It can be a superb combatant at the start of infections. Plants such as garlic and thyme are also well known for helping with equine cough. Thyme has an expectorant action making it ideal for equine coughing and chest infections but should only be given with caution as the oil in thyme (Thymol) is toxic in large quantities. Thyme should not be given to pregnant mares.

There are other wonderful herbal treatments containing mixtures of herbs which can be very beneficial. They stimulate the chest muscles and the mucous membranes of the lungs and bronchials, to clear residues and infections while at the same time building up resistance and cleaning the blood. Many of these products can be purchased online.

It could be of great help to soak your horse's hay. Although it may not be the reason for the coughing, soaking hay cuts down on extra dust that can irritate a horse's airways.

Turn your horse out more. If your horse spends a lot of time in his stall, more pasture time may reduce the incidence of coughing.