For equid owners, wildfire smoke can be a great hazard. Persistent smoke and its associated air pollution can have a major impact on the respiratory health of your horses if not controlled.
Smoke contains a potentially hazardous mix of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, soot, as well as other organic substances. It can irritate both the eyes and the respiratory tracts of a horse.
Equine owners should limit their equids’ activity if there is a source of smoke around, and if the smoke is heavy, then move their horses as far away from it as possible. It’s also important that you monitor your horse for any signs of heightened respiratory activity or coughing if there is a wildfire near your home and always consult a vet with any concerns.
Another important thing to note is that horses need a lot of fresh water at such times. Apart from keeping the body's airways moist, this also helps them to clear any inhaled smoke particulates.
It’s advisable that horse owners also apply human health air quality advisories to equine events where the animals will be exercising and breathing in harmful smoke. If your eyes are bothered and burned by smoke, then you can assume that your horses are also feeling the same kind of discomfort.
Just like in humans, too much smoke can cause a constriction of the airways in horses. Other equine infections associated with smoke include reactive airway ailments, bacterial infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.
Problems associated with heavy smoke exposure in horses can take 4-6 weeks to heal. During this healing period, you shouldn’t subject the affected animal to heavy exercise. That may make the situation worse by delaying healing and even compromise future performance.
In case your horse shows signs of further smoke-related health issues -- for instance a persistent cough, a fever, a nasal discharge or an increased rate of breathing -- contact a vet immediately. Your vet may prescribe respiratory drugs like bronchial dilators that help to re-hydrate the equine’s airway passages and lower inflammation or recommend further tests to check for any secondary bacterial infections.
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