Heaves in horses is a chronic and usually progressive disease. Most horses with heaves cannot be used for heavy work or any work in strenuous conditions. There is no cure for heaves, but with proper treatment and care, a horse can be ridden and used for light work. Learn treat heaves in a horse by following these steps.
1. Examine your horse to see if he has heaves and to what degree. Observe his breathing. Even at rest, a horse with heaves will flare his nostrils and take hurried breaths as if gasping for air. He will breathe in quickly and out slowly and with a grunt to help expel the air in his lungs. Horses with heaves also cough as a result of chronic bronchitis, just like humans with emphysema.
2. Keep your horse in a pasture with grass and not on dirt or dust. Dust irritates heaves and can cause it to worsen. Keep the horse in a stall only if absolutely necessary, keeping the bedding dust-free and always clean.
3. Feed your horse wet hay to keep hay dust down. The best way to feed wet hay is to put the hay in a hay net and submerge the entire net under water for 5 to 10 minutes. It should be dripping wet. Your horse may not like it at first, but he will get used to it.
4. Use a grain mixture with molasses. Molasses keeps the dust to a minimum in the grain. Feed your horse an adequate amount, but not too much. A horse with heaves should not be fat or overweight since this can worsen the condition.
5. Administer cough medication from a veterinarian into the horse’s feed. They are available in powder or liquid form and can help reduce coughing.
6. Exercise your horse slowly and not when he is coughing. If the horse is coughing often, do not ride him. Allow 3 to 4 weeks of rest and treatment with cough medication before gradually working him again.