Could Inflammatory Airway Disease be limiting your horse's performance and
you don't even know it?
IF YOU COMPETE WITH A QUARTER HORSE (or any other horse),
ESPECIALLY IN SPEED EVENTS: YOU NEED TO READ THIS ARTICLE!
Inflammatory airway disease (IAD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the
lower respiratory tract that do not appear to be caused by disease organisms.
Inflammatory airway disease occurs in up to 60% of athletic horses. It is a
common cause of impaired performance and interruption of training.
The most common signs of IAD are seen while working. Horses can have a
chronic cough, nasal discharge, and poor tolerance for strenuous exercise.
Affected horses appear normal at rest; fever and abnormal lung sounds are
rare. This means that an owner may not even know their horses have (IAD),
but that horse's performance is impaired just the same.
The exact cause or causes of IAD is unknown. Allergic airway disease,
recurrent lung stress, deep inhalation of dust, pollutants in the air, and
persistent viral or bacterial respiratory infections may be part of the syndrome.
IAD often develops following a viral respiratory infection and may result from
an inability of the immune system to fully eliminate viruses or bacteria from
small airways. Because some breeds are overrepresented there may be a
genetic component to IAD.
Inflammatory airway disease is prevalent in Quarter Horses. A study
conducted by Texas A&M University found that 60% of Quarter Horses had
IAD compared to 40% of Thoroughbreds. It is unknown how many
Standardbreds and other breeds suffer from this performance limiting disease,
but indications suggest a high percentage.
A diagnosis of inflammatory airway disease is often based on poor
performance and clinical signs. Endoscopic examination may reveal mucous
and pus in the upper throat, trachea, and lungs. Microscopic examination of
fluid from the lungs can help determine whether infection or inflammation are
involved and can help determine appropriate therapy.
Many trainers are ahead of the veterinary community in understanding the
scope of IAD. Many trainers are using nebulizers to aerosolize medications
for inhalation therapy. There are, however, multiple problems with this
treatment. Many times the nebulizers are not sterilized between horses,
causing outbreaks of the types of diseases they are intended to treat. Many
trainers use ineffective medication or the wrong dosage. Some of the effective
medications have unwanted side effects or drug testing issues.
I like to help horses perform at their best with an individual inhaler that
contains a steroid that is only active in the lungs. This minimizes unwanted
transfer of disease, side effects, and helps you compete within your
associations drug testing rules. Bronchodilators may be used alone or as an
adjunct to steroid therapy.
If you think your horse's performance could benefit from Inflammatory Airway
Disease (IAD) therapy, call 877-499-9989 to schedule an appointment.
Robert H Koontz DVM