You may have already read our articles about breathing and our advice in case your horse starts coughing. Today we'd like to focus on nebulisation. Although this technique is increasingly used to care for horses' airways on a daily basis, it is not always easy to understand its usefulness. We suggest you take a look at this technique.

A quick reminder on horse breathing

We presented the respiratory system of your horse in more detail in a previous article.

It is thanks to its airways (nostrils, larynx, lungs...) that your horse breathes and in an extremely large quantity. Its breathing cycle (inhalation + exhalation) is about 10 to 12 breathing cycles per minute at rest. In this case, it will not necessarily need the entire surface area of its lungs to supply its entire body. On the other hand, when the horse is put under stress, it will need all the space available in its lungs, and more particularly all the exchange surface possible in the alveoli.

If the exchanges are poor, and the lungs cannot take in enough air or the airways are " stressed ", your horse will probably have difficulty working, as the muscles are not oxygenated enough, but may also present other symptoms such as coughing or abnormal noises.

As you can see, although your horse's respiratory system is incredibly well developed, it is still fragile. Many conditions such as emphysema, inflammatory diseases of the airways or lung infections can reduce the horse's respiratory capacity.

Principle of nebulisation in horses

When your horse's respiratory system is affected, medicinal solutions exist and environmental treatment (dust reduction, etc.) is often necessary. Whether your horse suffers from a respiratory pathology or whether you simply wish to prevent these pathologies, particularly during high-risk periods, nebulisation can be a solution.

Nebulisation is the process of transforming a liquid into a cloud of very fine particles and having it inhaled by the horse. This is achieved by using a device called a nebuliser. The nebuliser is equipped with a mask, which is placed over the horse's nose, and a motor which transforms the liquid into fine particles and sends them into the mask. The particles are then suspended in the air and inhaled by the horse, following the "classic" path of breathing. Although the particles are very fine, their size can still vary. The smaller they are, the further they will go into the airways, sometimes even to the alveoli.

As you can see, one of the great advantages of nebulisation is its precision. Unlike drugs administered by general route, it can be used with high-dose drugs, over a long period of time and with limited side effects (digestive problems, kidney problems, etc.). The product's action is almost exclusively limited to the lungs and it does not circulate much throughout the body.

What is nebulised?

Generally, the products used for nebulisation are in liquid form. Then depending on the horse's needs and the need for nebulisation, the products can be of different types.

It can be just saline, which has good expectorant properties (clears the bronchi well).

The product can also be a medicine and the type will again depend on the reason for using nebulisation for your horse. It could be a bronchodilator, corticosteroids, antibiotics or even an antifungal.

 Finally, you can now find non-medicated products based on plant extracts or essential oils (eucalyptus, thyme, etc.) that can be used in nebulisers. They allow to ensure the well-being of horses with respiratory sensitivities on a daily basis, without necessarily using medicated products. The big advantage of these products is also that they are not doping and can therefore be used in the run-up to or during competitions if necessary.

That covers nebulisation in horses. Of course, if your horse has respiratory problems, it is essential to consult your veterinarian and to get personalised treatment but also to manage the horse's environment (avoid dust...). Nebulisation is a tool that brings comfort to the horse's daily life

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask us on our social networks.

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