Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Breathing Noise at Rest

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
  • If the horse seems to be in distress.
  • If you think the horse is having difficulty breathing.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Breathing noise at rest is usually associated with something causing an upper respiratory tract respiratory airway obstruction. This could result from infection, guttural pouch problems, mechanical problems of the upper airway (displaced soft palate or laryngeal paralysis), or anything else affecting the upper airway. Recently sedated horses often make snoring sounds.

Breathing accompanied by audible sounds usually indicates some obstruction to air flow in the upper airway (versus the lungs). The exception to this is RAO or Heaves in which whistling sounds can sometimes be heard without a stethoscope. These upper respiratory sounds can be described as rattling, whistling, or wheezing.

A rattling sound suggests that there is something interfering with air flow in the upper airway, usually mucus. Snoring sounds usually indicate obstruction of the nasal passages versus the throat. Wheezing indicates air flow through an abnormally narrow passage.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) and contact your vet with your findings and concerns. If your horse also has a fever, consider placing them in quarantine to reduce exposure to other horses until your vet makes a diagnosis. Since this observation can be associated with infectious disease, consider wearing gloves when handling the horse and instituting isolation measures until more is known.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Through history and physical exam, your vet usually can determine whether the problem is coming from upper or lower respiratory tract. Other diagnostics might narrow the nature of the disease process.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending