Choke In Equines

Choke In Equines

What is Choke?

An obstruction of the Oesophagus (the gullet/food pipe), usually with improperly chewed food stuff.

The obstruction usually occurs where the oesophagus enters the chest or where the oesophagus is narrowed as it passes over the heart within the chest (so approx. 1-1.5 metres from the throat.

Signs and Symptoms of Choke

  • The equine becomes distressed or there is a definite change in normal behaviour
  • A thick foamy mucus discharge down one or both nostrils
  • Coughing and heaving whilst lowering the neck to try and relieve the obstruction
  • A bubbling and rattling sound when breathing in and out
  • Heavy or laboured breathing

What to do if you suspect your horse has choke

The vast majority of chokes resolve themselves without treatment, so 30-40 minutes can be waited before seeking veterinary assistance in most instances common sense must be used.

Choke can be very distressing and look very serious, but in most cases it is not life threatening and can be successfully treated by a Veterinarian. Always remember ‘If in doubt call the Vet out’.

Treatment for Choke

Treatment involves pushing the choke into the stomach or removing the impacted food stuff out of the nose, or a combination of both, using copious volumes of water.

The risk of choke can be reduced by:

  • Cutting carrots length ways and not width ways
  • Making sure feed is properly damped and moistened
  • Ensuring horses have regular suitable dental assessments at least once a year
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