Coughing in horses is a common problem that many horse owners have to deal with. It can range from a mild, occasional cough to a more severe, persistent cough that can affect the horse’s overall health and well-being. As a veterinarian, it is important to understand the causes of coughing in horses and how to treat it. This article will provide an overview of coughing in horses, the potential causes, and how to effectively treat a coughing horse.

Signs and Symptoms of Coughing in Horses

Coughing in horses can signify conditions ranging from minor respiratory issues to more serious illnesses. To determine the cause of the cough, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with coughing in horses. Common signs and symptoms of coughing in horses include:

• A dry, hacking cough

• Wheezing

• Difficulty breathing

• Nasal discharge

• Coughing up mucus or saliva

• Coughing that worsens with exercise

• Coughing that is accompanied by other signs of illness, such as fever or lethargy

If your equine exhibits any telltale indications and manifestations, it is critical to contact your veterinary specialist for further assessment and management.

Possible Causes of Coughing in Horses

Coughing in horses can be triggered by many factors, from innocuous allergies or respiratory stimulants to more severe illnesses. Some of the most frequent instigators of coughing in horses include: 

• Allergies: Allergies are one of the most ubiquitous causes of coughing in equines. Horses can be hypersensitive to environmental irritants, such as pollinosis, dust motes, and mold spores. Therefore, if your horse is manifesting symptoms of coughing, it is essential to scrutinize its environment and ascertain any possible allergens that could induce the issue.

• Respiratory Infections: Respiratory infections, such as equine influenza or equine herpes virus, can provoke coughing in horses. These contagions can be diffused through contact with other horses or contaminated materials. Thus it is vital to observe proper cleanliness and keep your horse far from other horses if feasible.

• Gastric Ulcers: Gastric ulcers can provoke coughing in equines due to the abrasion of the interior of the abdomen and gullet. If your horse is demonstrating indications of hacking, it is essential to have them examined for gastric ulcers to ascertain if this is the source of their coughing.

• Heaves: Heaves, also known as recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), are a chronic respiratory condition caused by dust or mold spores exposure. Horses with heaves will exhibit signs of coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. 

• Other Causes: Other potential causes of coughing in horses include viral or bacterial infections, parasites, tumors, and heart problems. If your horse is exhibiting signs of coughing, it is important to have them evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the cause.

Treatment of Coughing in Horses

The treatment of coughing in horses will depend on the underlying cause. For example, suppose the source of the cough is attributable to hypersensitivities or inflammation from ecological irritants. In that case, treatment will involve abstaining from contact with the allergen or irritant and providing aiding consideration. This could incorporate drugs to lessen aggravation and mucous creation, just as helpful treatments like humidification or nebulization.

If the root of the cough is attributable to a pulmonary contagion, then a cure will necessitate furnishing antibiotics to rid the infection. In addition, supportive care and medications may be necessary to reduce inflammation and mucus production.

If the genesis of the hack is owing to gastric lesions, then therapy will necessitate furnishing medicaments to decrease gastric acid secretion and foster regeneration of the ulcers. In addition, supportive care may be necessary to reduce inflammation and mucus production.

Finally, if the cause of the cough is due to heaves, treatment will involve avoiding exposure to dust or mold spores and providing supportive care. This may include medications to reduce inflammation and mucus production and supportive therapies such as humidification or nebulization.


Coughing in horses is a prevalent issue that can be brought about by various circumstances, from straightforward sensitivities to more genuine ailments. It is basic for horse proprietors to know about the hints and side effects of hacking in horses, just as the potential causes and medicines. If your horse shows signs of hacking, it is fundamental to reach your veterinarian for further assessment and treatment.