You are here

Treatment of horses with asthma syndrome

Respiratory diseases in horses are one of the main reasons for their exclusion from work, sports or recreational use. Recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), or asthma of horses – This is a disease of older horses characterized by neutrophilic inflammation of the mucous membrane, hyperactivity of the respiratory tract, hypersecretion of mucus and bronchospasm.

The prevalence of broncho-pulmonary pathology, in particular asthma in horses, and low efficiency of therapeutic measures are of interest to veterinary specialists in search of new available pharmaco-correction.

The purpose of the work was to study the effectiveness of the developed integrated treatment scheme for horses for asthma syndrome.

Materials for research were sports and workhorses of the Ukrainian warmblood, Hanoverian, Westphalian, English Thoroughbred, Tori breeds and non-breeding animals. To complete the task, 13 horses with asthma were selected.

It was established that the complex treatment of patients with asthma horses showed a positive effect, even after a short course of therapy, since the clinical recovery was manifested in reducing the frequency of cough attacks, lack of dyspnea and nasal discharge, reduction of the amount of tracheal mucus (0/1°) and neutrophils in the BAL's washings, increasing the efficiency of horses.

In horses after treatment, the number of red blood cells (p 0.05) is reduced, the hemoglobin concentration (p<0.05) and the hematocrit (p<0.05) decrease, which is associated with the elimination of the causes of hypoxia, the indices of red blood are normal, as the decrease in the average volume of erythrocytes (p<0.01) and the average content of hemoglobin in erythrocyte (p<0,001) is established in comparison with the indicators of diseased animals.

Conducted treatment of asthma in horses contributed to the elimination of inflammatory process in the respiratory tract, as the amount of leukocytes (p<0.01), strain-cells (p<0.01) and segmentally nuclear (p<0.01) neutrophils, as well as monocytes (p<0.05), is decreased in blood. At the same time, an increase in the number of lymphocytes in the blood of horses after treatment (p<0.001) is associated with the restoration of protective mechanisms of the body of horses.

The treatment contributed to the normalization of the parameters of thrombopoiesis, in particular in the blood of horses the number of thrombocytes was likely to increase (p<0.05) and the amount of thrombocyte (p<0.05), which indicates the prevention of the development of hyperdestructive thrombocytopenia and hyperplasia of the epithelium of the respiratory tract, proliferation of smooth muscle cells and development of bronchoconstriction.

Treatment of patients with asthma of horses contributed to a reduction in the blood contents of the total protein (p<0.05), which is the result of reducing the inflammatory reaction in the respiratory tract. At the same time, the content of albumins and the concentration of total bilirubin in blood of horses did not change after treatment, therefore the developed scheme of treatment did not have a negative effect on the protein synthesizing pigmentary function of the liver. The treatment normalized carbohydrate metabolism, as the blood glucose increased significantly (p<0.05).

The developed treatment scheme is effective, and the drugs used do not cause increased permeability of cell membranes, where the AST and ALT are localized, since the activity of blood serum enzymes has not undergone any changes, and the tendency to decrease the activity of CK-MB, LDH and LDH-1 indicates the stabilization of membranes of cardiomyocytes.

The treatment improved the diffusion of gases through the alveolar-capillary membrane, contributes to the reduction of hypoxia and the manifestation of respiratory dysfunction, since probably in the blood (p<0,01) the hydrogen indicator decline (pH), there is a tendency to increase the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) and partial pressure of oxygen (pO2).

The use of corticosteroids (dexamethasone, fluticasone) reduces pulmonary neutrophilia, improves the function of the lungs and suppresses the hyperactivity of the respiratory tract. The use of ß2-agonists, or ß2-adrenomimetics, provides rapid bronchodilation, increases mucociliary clearance, and prevents bronchial spasm induced by allergens. Mucolytic drugs provide dissolution of mucus and accelerate the secretion of the respiratory tract, which promotes the rapid restoration of lung function.

The Roncoleukinum drug leads to a decrease in the degree of obstruction of the respiratory tract, the number of neutrophils in the liquid BAL and a decrease in bronchial hyperactivity, inhibits the migration of neutrophils into the inflammation zone. In addition to the pulmono protective properties of the drug, prevention of the development of hyper destructive thrombocytopenia of the airway epithelium, the proliferation of smooth muscle cells and the development of bronchoconstriction should be noted.

Because of the progressive nature of asthma, long-term, or re-therapy requires symptomatic treatment, especially during asthmatic attacks.

When diagnosed in a timely manner, when degenerative changes have not developed in the lungs and when the conditions of detention are changed and the correct treatment scheme is used, the animal may be used for many years.

Key words: asthma syndrome, horses, corticosteroids, bronchodilators, inhalation drug administration, symptomatic therapy.

1. Maksymovych, I., Siwińska, N., Słowikowska, M., Żak, A., Niedźwiedź, A. (2016). Postać ciężka astmy koni – nowa nazwa znanej choroby. Weterynaria w terenie, no. 3, pp. 74–79.

2. Sánchez, A., Couëtil, L.L., Ward, M.P., & Clark, S.P. (2005). Effect of airway disease on blood gas exchange in racehorses. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Vol. 19, pp. 87–92.

3. Art, T., Kirschvink, N., Smith, N., Votion, D., & Lekeux, P. (1999). Cardiorespiratory measurements and indices of oxidative stress in exercising COPD horses. Equine Vet. J. Suppl., Vol. 30, pp. 83–87.

4. Niedzwiedz, A., Jaworski, Z., Tykalowski, B., Smialek, M. (2014). Neutrophil and macrophage apoptosis in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from healthy horses and horses with recurrent airway obstruction (RAO). BMC Veterinary Research. Electronic resource, Vol. 10, 29 p. Retrieved from:

5. Сouëtil, L.L., Cardwell, J.M., Gerpter, V., Lavoie, J.P., Léguillette, R., Richard, E.A. (2016). Inflammatory airway disease in horses-revised consensus statement. J. Vet. Intern. Med., Vol. 30, pp. 503–515.

6. Niedźwiedź, A., Nicpoń, J., & Różycki, P. (2006). Pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of Recurrent Equine Airway Obstruction. Med. Weter., Vol. 62, pp. 512–515.

7. Buchek, K., Maksymovych, I., Staniets M., Milchak, A. (2017). Endoskopichna diahnostyka retsydyvuiuchoi obstruktsii dykhalnykh shliakhiv u konei [Endoscopic diagnosis of relapsing airway obstruction in horses]. Naukovo-tekhnichnyi biuleten DNDKI vetpreparativ ta kormovykh dobavok i Instytutu biolohii tvaryn [Scientific and technical bulletin of DNDKI of veterinary preparations and feed additives and the Institute of Animal Biology]. Vol. 18(1), pp. 125–130.

8. Pasławska, U., Nicpoń, J., Noszczyk-Nowak, A. (2008). Wybrane metody klinicznej diagnostyki różnicowej przewlekłej niewydolności oddechowej u koni. Magazyn weterynaryjny, Vol. 17(2), pp. 118–119.

9. Maksymovych, I.A. (2015). Retsydyvuiucha obstruktsiia dykhalnykh shliakhiv u konei: poshyrennia, etiolohiia ta patohenez [Recurrent obstruction of the respiratory tract in horses: distribution, etiology and pathogenesis]. Naukovyi visnyk Lvivskoho nats. universytetu vet. medytsyny ta biotekhnolohii imeni S.Z. Gzhytskoho [Scientific Herald of Lviv National University of Vet. Medicine and Biotechnology named after SZ Gzhytsky]. Lviv, Vol. 17, 2(62), pp. 137–142.  

10. Dorosh, M.V. (2007). Bolezni loshadej [Horse diseases]. Moscow. Veche.

11. Couëtil, L.L., Hoffman, M.A., Hodgson, J., Buechner-Maxwell, V., Viel, L., Wood, J.L., & Lavoie, J.P. (2007). Inflammatory Airway Disease of Horses. J. Vet. Intern. Med., Vol. 21(2), pp. 356–361.

12. Avdeev, S.N., & Bajmakanova, G.E. (2008). HOBL i serdechno-sosudistye zabolevanija: mehanizmy associacii [COPD and cardiovascular diseases: mechanisms of association]. Pul'monologija [Pulmonology]. no.1, pp. 5–13.

13. Falk, J.A., Kadiev, S., Criner, G.J., Scharf, S.M., Minai, O.A., & Diaz, P. (2008). Cardiac disease in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Proc. Am. Thorac. Soc., Vol. 5(4), pp. 543–548.

14. Ambrosino, N., & Simonds, A. (2007). The clinical management in extremely severe COPD. Respir. Med., Vol. 10, pp. 1613–1624.

15. Korzh, A.N. (2008). Serdechno-sosudistaja patologija u bol'nyh hronicheskim obstruktivnym zabolevaniem legkih [Cardiovascular pathology in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]. Mezhdunarodnyj medicinskij zhurnal [International Medical Journal]. no. 2, pp. 41–46.

16. Chuchalin, A.G. (2008). Hronicheskoe obstruktivnoe zabolevanie legkih i soputstvujushhie zabolevanija [Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and comorbidities]. Ter. archive. no. 8, pp. 45–50.

17. Maksymovych, I.A. (2017). Hematolohichnyi status konei za astmatychnoho syndromu [Hematologic status of horses for asthmatic syndrome].  Nauk. visnyk veterynarnoi medytsyny. [Of science Veterinary Medicine Bulletin]. Bila Tserkva, Issue 1(133), pp. 68–76.

18. Krjachko, O.V., & Romanova, O.V. (2004). Primenenie preparata Ronkolejkin® pri hronicheskih obstruktivnyh zabolevanijah legkih u loshadej [Use of the drug Roncoleukin® in chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases in horses]. Recommendations. St. Petersburg, 27 p.

19. Robinson, N.E., Jackson, C., Jefcoat, A., Berney, C., Peroni, D., & Derksen, F.J. (2002). Efficacy of three corticosteroids for the treatment of recurrent airway obstruction (heaves). Equine Vet. J., Vol. 34, pp. 17–22.

20. Thomson, J.R., & McPherson, E.A. (1984). Effects of environmental contron on pulmonary function of horses affected with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Equine Vet. J., Vol. 16, pp. 35–38.

21. Tesarowski, D.B., Viel, L., & McDonell, W.N. (1996). Pulmonary function measurements during repeated environmental challenge of horses with recurrent airway obstruction (heaves). Am. J. Vet. Res., Vol. 57, pp. 1214–1219.

22. Robinson, N.E. (2001). Recurrent airway obstruction (Heaves). International Veterinary Information Service, Ithaca NY., B0317.1101.

23. Davis, E., & Rush, B.R. (2002). Equine recurrent airway obstruction: pathogenesis, diagnosis and patient management. Vet. Clin. North Am. Equine Pract., Vol. 18, pp. 453–467.

24. Amman, V.J., Vrins, A.A., & Lavoie, J.P. (1998). Effect of inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate on respiratory function in horses with chronic pulmonary disease (COPD). Equine Veterinary Journal, Vol. 30(2), pp. 152–157.

25. Sellnow, L. (1997). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Horse: Your Guide to equine health care, Vol. 14(11), pp. 57–67.

26. Watson, E.D., Sweeney, C.R., & Steensma, K.A. (1992). Arachidonate metabolites in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from horses with and without COPD. Equine Vet. J., Vol. 24, pp. 379–381.

27. Robinson, Je. (2007). Zabolevanija serdechno-sosudistoj sistemy [Diseases of the cardiovascular system]. Bolezni loshadej. Sovremennye metody lechenija [Diseases of horses. Modern methods of treatment]. Moscow, LLC Aquarium-Print, pp. 488–498.

28. Amman, V.J., Lavoie, J.P., & Vrins, A.A. (1995). Effects of beclomethasone dipropionate in horses with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Proc. 13th Ann. Med. Forum ACVIM. 13th, p.1037.

29. Rush, B.R., Raub, E.S., Rhoads, W.S., Flaminco, M.J., Matson, C.J., Hakala, J.E., & Gillespie, J.R. (1998). Pulmonary function in horses with recurrent airway obstruction after aerosol and parenteral administration of beclomethasone dipropionate and dexamethasone, respectively. Am. J. Vet. Res., Vol. 59, pp. 1039–1043.

30. Duvivier, D.H., Bayly, W.M., Votion, D., Vandenput, S., Farnir, F., & Lekeux, P. (1999). Effects of inhaled dry powder ipratropium bromide on recovery from exercise of horses with COPD. Equine Vet. J., Vol. 31, pp. 20–24.

31. Bailey, J., Colahan, P., & Kubilis, P. (1999). Effect of inhaled beta2-adrenoreceptors agonists, albuterol sulfate on performance of horses. Equine Vet. J. Suppl., Vol. 30, pp. 575–580.

32. Henrikson, S.L., & Rush, B.R. (2001). Efficacy of salmeterol xinafoate in horses with recurrent airway obstruction. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc., Vol. 218, pp. 1961–1965.

33. Gerber, V., Lindberg, A., Berney, C., & Robinson, N.E. (2004). Airway mucus in recurrent airway obstruction–short-term response to environmental challenge. J Vet Intern Med., Vol. 18, pp. 92–97.

34. Niedzviedz, A., Borovich, H., Maksymovych, I., Slivinska, L., & Kubiak, K. (2017). Zastosuvannia bronkhoalveoliarnoho lavazhu dlia diahnostyky khvorob nyzhnikh dykhalnykh shliakhiv u konei [Application of bronchoalveolar lavage for the diagnosis of diseases of the lower respiratory tract in horses]. Biolohiia tvaryn [Biology of animals]. Vol. 19(1), pp. 73–82.

35. Kamyshnikov, V.S. (2004). Spravochnik po kliniko-biohimicheskim issledovanijam i laboratornoj diagnostike [Handbook of clinical and biochemical studies and laboratory diagnostics]. Moscow, Medpress-inform, 920 p.

36. Oke, S. (2016). Equine Asthma Syndrome. Retrieved from:

37. Kent, B.D., Mitchell, P.D., & McNicholas, W.T. (2011). Hypoxemia in patients with COPD: cause, effects, and disease progression. Int. J. Chron. Obstruct. Pulmon. Dis., Vol. 6, pp. 199–208.

38. Dovgij, P.G., & Zabinjakov, N.A. (2013). Izmenenija jeritrocitov u bol'nyh hronicheskoj obstruktivnoj bolezn'ju legkih pozhilogo i starcheskogo vozrasta [Red blood cell changes in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the elderly and senile age]. Gerontology, no. 1(3), pp. 242–250.

39. Cunningham, F.M., & Dunkel, B. (2008). Equine recurrent airway obstruction and insect bite hypersensitivity: understanding the diseases and uncovering possible new therapeutic approaches. Vet. J., Vol. 177, pp. 334–344.

40. Lavoie-Lamoureux, A., Martin, J.G., & Lavoie, J.P. (2014). Characterization of arginase expression by equine neutrophils. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol., Vol. 127, pp. 206–213.

41. Pitchford, S.C., Riffo-Vasquez, Y., Sousa, A., Momi, S., Gresele, P., Spina, D., & Page, C.P. (2004). Platelets are necessary for airway wall remodeling in a murine model of chronic allergic inflammation. Blood, Vol. 103, pp. 639–647.

42. Desjardins, I., Theoret, C., Joubert, P., Wagner, B., & Lavoie, J.P. (2004). Comparison of TGF-beta 1 concentration in bronchoalveolar fluid of horses affected with heaves and of normal controls. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol., Vol. 101, pp. 133–141.

43. Kornerup, K.N., & Page, C.P. (2007). The role of platelets in the pathophysiology of asthma. Platelets, Vol. 18,
 pp. 319–328.

44. Ntaios, G., Papadopoulos, A., Chatzinikolaou, A., Saouli, Z., Karalazou, P., Kaiafa, G., Girtovitis, F., Kontoninas, Z., Savopoulos, C., Hatzitolios, A., & Alexiou-Daniel, S. (2008). Increased values of mean platelet volume and platelet size deviation width may provide a safe positive diagnosis of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Acta Haematol., Vol. 119, pp. 173–177.

45. Maksymovych, I.A., Niedzviedz, A., Leno, M.I., & Slivinska, L.H. (2017). Biokhimichnyi profil ta kyslotno-osnovnyi balans krovi u konei za astmatychnoho syndromu [Biochemical profile and acid-base blood balance in horses for asthmatic syndrome]. Naukovyi visnyk Lvivskoho nats. universytetu vet. medytsyny ta biotekhnolohii imeni S.Z. Gzhytskoho [Scientific Herald of Lviv National University of Vet. Medicine and Biotechnology named after SZ Gzhytsky]. Vol. 19(82), pp. 205–211.

46. Fadeenko, G.D., Kravchenko, N.A., & Vinogradova, S.V. (2005). Patofiziologicheskie i molekuljarnye mehanizmy razvitija steatoza i steatogepatita [Pathophysiological and molecular mechanisms of steatosis and steatohepatitis]. Suchasna gastroenterologіja [Modern gastroenterology]. Vol. 3(23), pp. 88–95.

47. Pasiieshvili, L.M., Zhelezniakova, N.M., & Pasiieshvili, T.M. (2015). Kliniko-patohenetychni osoblyvosti perebihu nealkoholnoi zhyrovoi khvoroby pechinky u khvorykh na bronkhialnu astmu ta ozhyrinnia [Clinical and pathogenetic features of the course of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in patients with bronchial asthma and obesity]. Hastroenterolohiia [Gastroenterology]. no. 4, pp. 47–52. Retrieved from:

PDF icon visnik_vet-2-2018-slivinska_66-80.pdf312.92 KB