Peat Litter or Wood Chips in Equine Asthma?

Indicators of inflammation in the lower respiratory tract are less pronounced with peat litter.

Study design

The choice of bedding influences the air quality in the horse stable and thus also the development and progression of equine asthma. However, the direct connection between different bedding materials on the one hand and inflammation parameters of the lower respiratory tract on the other hand has not been researched very much to date. A study of 32 healthy school horses on a farm in Finland compared respiratory symptoms, tracheal mucus texture, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) cytology between housing on wood chips (coniferous wood) and peat litter (peat moss). All horses were housed first on peat litter for 35 days, then on wood shavings for 35 days, and then on peat litter again for 35 days; they spent 18 hours a day in the appropriate bedding box.

Results and Interpretation

There were no differences in respiration rates or tracheal mucus consistency between sampling times. After the bedding period on wood chips, the proportion of neutrophils was higher in tracheal wash samples than after the two periods on peat litter and in BALF samples than after the second period on peat litter. The authors assume that this effect is directly related to the number of inhaled particles (dust) from the litter; the connection has already been extensively proven for animal feed. Even if a box covered with peat litter looks macroscopically “dusty”, it is important to know that the average particle size in peat litter is more than 10 µm, making inhalation into the deep airways unlikely.

Frequently Asked Question

What to do with equine asthma in horses?

In the drug therapy of equine asthma, corticosteroids and bronchodilators are particularly important. However, this only help to treat the symptoms, they do not eliminate the cause.

What helps against asthma in horses?

Drug therapy is required when horses are symptomatic. Bronchodilators and expectorant drugs are used to treat equine asthma. Cortisone derivatives are used to calm the inflammation in the lungs.

What to feed in equine asthma?

Equine asthma is feeding and housing that is as dust- and ammonia-free as possible. Year-round grazing would perhaps be optimal but is not always feasible. Feeding watered/steamed hay or haylage, as well as treated concentrated feed, can have a positive effect on equine asthma.

Can you ride a horse with asthma?

Can you ride a horse with asthma? It depends on the condition of the horse. A horse with a mild form of equine asthma with an occasional cough can be ridden.

How long does a horse inhale cortisone?

The average waiting period for cortisone in horses with a cough is around 7 days for most medications and inhalation or feeding.

How quickly does cortisone work in horses?

After oral administration to horses, prednisolone is rapidly absorbed and produces an immediate response that is sustained for approximately 24 hours.

Is equine asthma curable?

If equine asthma is recognized too late, even effective therapy can no longer completely reverse this process. Nevertheless, the following applies: With the right treatment, horse owners can permanently alleviate the disease and improve the quality of life of their horses.

When to euthanize a horse with asthma?

However, if the respiratory disease is already very far advanced, i.e. up to the stage of dampness, the only option is to euthanize the horse.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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