A horse can choke if food is trapped in the esophagus, which usually happens when the animal eats too quickly or does not chew the food properly before swallowing it. Although the problem usually goes away on its own, it can cause serious and potentially fatal complications. Therefore, it is important to take care of the animal as soon as possible. Come on?
Part 1 of 2: Identifying a choke
Step 1. Look for common signs that the horse is choking
A common sign is a lump on the neck, but there are several things the animal will do when it is choking, in addition to not wanting to eat or drink water, such as:
- To cough.
- To yawn.
- Arch the neck.
- Drooling excessively.
- Not being able to breathe properly.
Step 2. Call a veterinarian right away
If you are not the owner of the horse, contact the owner of the horse and let him know of the situation.
Step 3. Don't let the horse eat or drink anything
The choking will get worse if the animal continues to eat or drink water, so do your best to keep it away from food sources.
- Take the horse to a stable that does not contain hay or pasture. The animal will try to eat the hay, so remove anything it might want to consume.
- The horse will dehydrate quickly, but don't let him drink water from a bucket.
Step 4. Keep the animal as calm as possible
It is normal for him to be restless and irritable when choking, and this can cause problems and injuries. Don't go near him if your safety is at risk, however.
If necessary, the vet will sedate you to calm you down
Step 5. Keep the horse upright, head down
This will prevent the trapped object from entering his airway, which could cause respiratory complications.
- Keeping the horse upright will also prevent it from giving up on swallowing the object, which can happen if it lies down.
- If you have a halter handy, use it to hold the horse and keep it upright. However, do not do this if you feel that you are in danger of being attacked by the animal.
Step 6. Touch the horse's neck to identify the bump
This lump should indicate where in the esophagus the food is trapped. Do not touch the horse's neck if he is too restless or anxious.
- If the horse allows you to approach and touch the neck, try gently massaging the bump to make it easier to remove it.
- If the object is soft, like an apple, it should dissolve in no more than 15 minutes. If the lump remains after this time, it is probably something more rigid or dense, like a carrot.
- It is possible that blockages appear due to dry foods such as sugar beet. If not soaked properly, these foods swell and cause problems. It will only be possible to remove them with the help of a veterinarian, using special equipment.
Part 2 of 2: Preventing chokes
Step 1. Serve only soft foods for two weeks after choking
An example of a soft food is a moistened pelletized feed.
Step 2. Keep the horse's access to water at all times
The water will help the animal to swallow the food, reducing the chances that the food will get stuck in the esophagus.
Step 3. Prevent the horse from biting or licking any wooden structure
It is possible that he chokes on some piece of wood and swallows it.
Step 4. Take care of their teeth twice a year
It is important that the horse's teeth are always filed to ensure proper chewing of food before swallowing.
Step 5. Change the horse's eating habits
In addition to changing the consistency of food, modifying the way the animal eats can prevent choking.
- Offer smaller, more frequent portions.
- Soak the pelleted feed in water for old horses as they may be unable to chew well and are more likely to choke.
- Cut larger foods into small pieces. This goes for apples and carrots, which should be cut into strips rather than slices.
- Put stones in the horse feeder. When having to separate the stones from the grains, he will eat more slowly.
- Release the horse more often so it can graze between meals. Grazing more regularly can slow down the horse's feeding, causing it to choke less.
- The horse will need some time to rest after choking, especially if the trapped object has caused damage to the esophagus. Because of this, avoid riding it for one to two weeks.
- Talk to the veterinarian and give as much information as possible about the situation, such as what the horse may have eaten and how long the object has been stuck. Thus, the professional will be able to assess the seriousness of the situation and will know the best treatment.
- There is usually little you can do to actually resolve the issue. The choke is likely to resolve itself, but it's a good idea to keep an eye on the animal and seek professional help if necessary.
- If not resolved quickly, choking can damage the lining of the esophagus and cause serious respiratory complications. In that case, the veterinarian will need to perform more intensive procedures and administer medications.
- Do not medicate the horse unless instructed to do so by the veterinarian.
- Do not approach a struggling horse, even in an emergency, as this is extremely dangerous. You could be seriously hurt.