Wildfires continue to make headlines in the United States, causing damage throughout the state of California. Wildfires have already affected many people and animals, exposing them to unhealthy wildfire smoke. The recent wildfire, the Lilac fire, has already killed many horses and injured even more.
Wildfire smoke is made up of the highly lethal carbon monoxide and harmful particulates. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and highly toxic gas that can be fatal when inhaled in high doses. Exposure to this colorless gas may cause significant health deficiencies, especially to the central nervous systems and heart.
Particulates are bad elements that can damage the respiratory system of the horse. Particulates can also lead to several health problems, which include running nose, burning eyes, and bronchitis. Additionally, these harmful particulates can also aggravate heart conditions and cause serious lungs problems.
Some experts recommend that horses return to their routine exercise no sooner than two weeks post smoke-inhalation when the air quality returns to normal. Like the other animals, horses tend to have an irritation to particles and harmful gases. So, you need to be careful with your horse.
Below we've listed some tips on how to protect your horse from the air pollutants, wildfire smoke, and toxic gases:
Provide plenty of fresh water
Your horse needs plenty of fresh water. Horses drink water after they eat and they drink most of their water within 2 hours of eating hay. By providing water close to our horse, we can increase the horse’s water consumption or intake. Water plays a crucial role in horse’s healthy body. It keeps the airways moist and facilitates clearance of inhaled particles.
Limit exposure to dust
Avoid exposing your horse to dust. By soaking hay before feeding, we can limit dust exposure. This could also prevent the harmful particles in the dust such as fungi and harmful bacteria from getting into your horse's lungs.
Limit horse exercise or activity
Another preventive measure you can take is to limit exercise when smoke is visible or near your horse. Reducing your horse's activities increases the airflow intake of their lungs. Exposing your horse to smoke could result in bronchoconstriction, the constriction of the air passages in the lungs due to the tightening of the muscle.
Always contact a veterinarian
Always contact a veterinarian if your horse is having difficulty breathing or coughing. The veterinarian can help determine if your horse has serious lung problems that will require immediate medical attention. But if your horse has a history of airway problems, secondary problems, smoke-induced respiratory injury, there's a higher chance of getting higher-risk lung problems or lung infections such as bacterial pneumonia. For this, a veterinarian can prescribe special treatments, which may include bronchodilator drugs, nebulization, intravenous fluids, and other treatments that facilitate hydration of the lungs airway passages. In addition to special treatments, the veterinarian may also recommend some blood tests to determine whether there is a secondary bacterial infection.
Provide enough recovery time
Finally, give your horse enough time to recover from smoke-induced airway problems. An airway problem resulting from wildfire smoke could take a few days to heal. Give your horse enough time to rest. Avoid too much exercise because it could aggravate your horse’s condition and compromise their overall performance for several days or even weeks.
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