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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Update and HELP.....

First off, I would like to commend you. I wrote to you about the pregnant underweight mare awhile back. Well she is reigning my pasture now. LOL!
She still needs a little more weight on her but she is a different horse now thanks to you.
I have rescued yet another horse. He is somewhere between 15 and 20 according to a vet that I took him to see. He has a severe breathing problem, struggling to exhale mostly. I think he has the heaves or COPD.
My vet told me that it was probably incurable. But, from all the reading I have done on breathing problems I really dont trust his judgment.
I gave this horse Dexamethazone for 7 days and also AniHist. He was doing great. The vet told me to stop the meds and see what happens. Well I stopped the meds and he is back to square one. Struggling to breath again.
This particular vet didnt give me much hope so I'm once again asking for your advice. He does not have what you call a heave line yet so I'm praying theres hope for him.
Thank you so much for your advice.

Where are you from? Georgia

How did you locate this forum? Through an equine website; cant remember name.

Re: Update and HELP - Respiratory Problems

Hello Terry,

That is such wonderful news about your mare. I hope you’ll keep me posted when she foals – perhaps you can send a photo!

(For those of you reading this post, Terry is referring to forum item called the “Rescued Pregnant Mare.”)

So, you have another needy soul to nurture. From what you tell me, it sounds very much as though he has allergies, and not an infection, since the symptoms responded to an antihistimine and a steroidal compound. Take a look at his gums – if they are purple-ish, it indicates that he is not getting enough oxygen because the airways are blocked.

There is a condition known as “Summer Pasture-Associated Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” (SPAOPD), that appears to be just like heaves but it tends to occur in more humid, southern areas, like where you are located in Georgia.

If it is an allergic reaction, it can be due to a number of things – pollens, plants, and most likely, insects.

COPD (heaves) is really equine asthma, which can be treated. Certainly, since I am not a veterinarian, therefore, it would be best to have an accurate diagnosis.

However, from a nutritional perspective, there are several things that you can do to either ease the symptoms or even correct the problem. The goal is to boost the immune system.

So, here’s a list of things to consider adding to his diet (divided between feedings):

1. Vitamin E – 3000 IU/day. Since most equine vitamin E supplements are combined with selenium, I do not recommend them, unless the soils are deficient in selenium. Instead, you can purchase natural vitamin E - known as d-alpha tocopherol (the synthetic – dl-alpha tocopherol -- is not as effective). Here is a website that offers it:

If you have difficulty finding an equine product, you can buy human supplements.

2. Vitamin C – Plain ascorbic acid. Feed 26 grams (26000 mg) each day.

3. Echinacea – 1000 mg

4. Licorice (not human candy!) – the actual herb is an natural anti-inflammatory agent that acts similiarly to dexamethasone. It also loosens secretions if he is congested.

In addition to these supplements, provide a high quality protein by combining forages (grasses and legumes). Lots of water – very important! Add salt to his diet to encourage him to drink, if necessary. And, keep him away from dusty environments such as straw bedding.

Please keep me posted on how he is doing.

Thank you for writing and your kind words.

All the best,

Dr. Getty