Veterinarians are used to hearing this phrase from horse owners: “Something’s just not right. He isn’t himself.” Trying to identify the root cause of a horse’s poor performance and abnormal behavior can make a diagnosis difficult. Poor performance can stem from a variety of issues; however, there are a few things we know.
Poor performance looks like lethargy, reduced stamina during riding and training, and longer recovery from workouts. Inflammatory airway disease (IAD), also known as mild to moderate equine asthma, is the second-leading cause of poor performance, behind lameness (orthopedic disease). It’s associated with airway inflammation, coughing and mucus accumulation. It has been shown to occur in up to 80 percent of 2-year-old Thoroughbreds, although it can affect horses of any age.
“IAD is considered to be a non-infectious condition, but horses that have had infectious respiratory viruses like strangles, equine herpes virus (EHV) and equine influenza virus (EIV) may be more predisposed to IAD,” said Dr. Rob Keene, equine technical manager with Boehringer Ingelheim.
In order to minimize the infectious causes of IAD, vaccination may be required. Equine influenza virus is a frequent cause of lower-airway inflammation, so it’s important that horses are vaccinated against the most current strains. Without protection from an updated vaccine, the infectious causes of poor performance can lead to days lost in training, riding, showing and racing. For every day a horse has a fever of 101º F or more, one week of rest should follow.
“Poor performance can be attributable to a number of conditions,” Dr. Keene said. “But we do know that using current and relevant respiratory vaccines may help to minimize the potential infectious causes of IAD, and help keep a horse performing to the best of its ability.”
Click here to download an infographic that demonstrates the hidden costs of infectious equine respiratory diseases, or for more information, visit www.bi-vetmedica.com/species/equine/products/vetera_vaccines.html.
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