Dry cough

My 6 y/o has picked up a sort of dry cough in the last two weeks or so. I don’t think it’s a virus, I think it’s allergies or environmental - vet has been out and agrees and said I’m doing all the right things but would love to see if anyone had any additional thoughts!

He’s getting Air Power daily, is now on a full daily dose of ImmuneBiome Breathe and I’m working him up to a dose of AniHist H. (The dose is huge and he only eats a little handful of balancer to carry his supplements.) He’s been off work for about a week and a half to avoid irritating his respiratory system further.

He lives in a stall with shavings and an attached dirt run. Our arena and turnouts are plain old sand. We just moved his stall to the other side of the barn so that he’s farther away from any dust coming from the arena and turnouts. The next thing on my list is to change his bedding - my barn owner suggested pellets. I’d also like to start soaking his hay but I don’t think the staff has the bandwidth and I can’t be there 3x per day to soak… still thinking about how I can make that happen.

We’re in SoCal in the middle of a drought and the whole property/neighborhood is so dry and dusty right now, plus the barn sits in a bowl at the foot of some hills so the wind just whips down and stirs everything up. We also have lots of random plants and trees in bloom and he recently arrived from a very different climate. The barn has been experimenting a bit with watering the ring less because of the drought and water restrictions, but I don’t think that will last as the horses are not happy about it… I am pushing hard for more water and updated footing but you can only do so much as a boarder. I’m open to moving him if this doesn’t resolve but that would be a last-ditch effort.

I have owned and cared for horses with seasonal allergies as well as RAO and the biggest things are 24/7 turnout (weather permitting) and soaked feed.

I’d get him out of the stall as much as possible, and make sure his turn out isn’t too dusty. If more turnout is not an option, use bedding pellets and keep them sprayed down.

He needs his hay at least sprayed down, not necessary to soak. Soaking removes nutrients and sugars. You just need to eradicate the dust. I used to bag mine up, spray it down with the hose and let it drip for a minute before feeding. If you’re barn staff cannot handle that or refuse to, I would move him. His health and wellbeing isn’t worth it.

If it’s more dusty outside of the stall than in, leave him in. Make sure he has adequate ventilation, and his bedding is moist enough to keep the dust down.


This. Out 24/7 is not a cure for those that are allergic to nature.

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I try to keep them where the dust is minimal. Whether that’s outside or in, it depends on the situation. :slight_smile:

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Could you provide haybags/nets filled with hay you’ve sprayed for dust?
Then staff would just have to hang them.
Hay doesn’t have to be wet when fed.
Pelleted bedding can be dusty if not sprayed when spread.
Like the hay, doesn’t need to be soaked, just sprayed.

I had one with RAD that I treated with Clenbuterol for 3mos (cha-ching$) before discovering the allergy was to the corncob bedding I’d switched to.
I went back to shavings (& later pellets) & symptoms disappeared in less than a month.
Other horse never reacted to the new bedding.

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I would run allergy tests on him. My guy would get a couch every spring until we started his allergy shots. Once a month IM injections and he is good go. Hasn’t had an issue since.
While the cough is active, I would be wetting hay and trying to keep the dust down. I would also look for a bay bin to feed it out of rather than a net. This way dust and bay particles arent going up his nose constantly. You can find bins specifically for slow feeding if he needs to be slowed down.
Definitely wet the bedding. The floors are dirt, move the shavings back and wet the stall floor before putting shavings on top and dampening those.


Agreed - but it also has to do with pollens and other environmental crap in some cases. Unfortunately, it’s not always as straight forward as minimizing dust - although all horses should be in as minimally dusty situations as possible!


This is great, thanks all. I already bag his hay for staff to hang so I can definitely start spraying it down, for some reason that didn’t even occur to me. I’ve been thinking about running allergy tests as well so glad to hear that has been successful.

I’ve known more than one horse who stopped coughing immediately when fed on stall floor.