Alternative Options for COPD in Horses


Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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31 Responses

  1. Fonna Lawhon says:

    I neglected to mention the important role Acupressure has played in Rays healing. A few years ago I was lucky to find an Acupressure Specialist in my area.
    This summer she incorporated Tui Na with the traditional pressure points. We immediatly noticed a huge increase in Rays releases! I feel Acupressure is vital in helping to balance the body and improve health.

  2. Deby says:

    Hi Cassie
    Our last rescue, Hana an event paint, came to us lame in the back, front feet overgrown to the point were they were mushy from standing in soggy mug…yucky…BUT she roars when she walks. We take them out for their ride and she just huffed and puffed…reminded me of my dad and his TB. Anyways, I tried doTerra breathe on one of our rides…just a couple drops on her muzzle…and voile…no more roar when ridden. We were so excited that she made the whole ride without the huffing and the puffing. I just wanted to share that with you as we had great success with it.
    Thank you for all the info you share…you are appreciated

    • Casie says:

      That’s wonderful to hear, Deby. Don’t you love it when you find a natural solution? Best wishes to you and your horses!

  3. Betsy says:

    Dear Gonna, I have been struggling with this exact same issue in both of my horses since 2007. My Quarter horse Tricia was 15 and my Arab was 10. That summer they both started coughing. Vet came out gave them antibiotics (no blood work) and said it was due to allergies. By summers end my quarter ran a fever, very lethargic and was heaving and was given Dec. The Arab continued to have a cough on and off with clear or white phlegm. Quarter was fine from 2007 to 2009 when it came back with a vengeance but only during damp, hot and humid weather. Vet put her on Advair to use when needed and said there was no cure. I went hay, took hay samples, gave western and chinese herbs, acupuncture, etc. She passed in 2012 from hepatitis which I believe was due to Advair. My Arab continues to cough. She has been on many herbs for cough and wheezing. I need your assistance or direction. Could this be Baronella? What I find strange is both horses developed these symptoms same time. At one point I also thought it may have been the WNV vaccine and booster that my vet scared me I to giving. Thanks for your time

  4. Fonna Lawhon says:

    My heart goes out to you!! I have had such a blessing with my horse. He is breathing
    perfect, no cough or wheezing! In December 2015 I started the COPD protacol of Dr.
    Gerald Wessner, using homeopathic nosodes. I just finished this week! What timing!
    Go to his website at I wish you the same healing for your Arab.

  5. Susan says:

    How much proteolytic enzymes would you need to administer per day? Is there a brand that you prefer? My horse has been on steriods to control his cough and breathing. Would you wean him off of it before you start with alternative therapy?

    • Fonna Lawhon says: has quality enzymes. Directions are included. MSM is also
      great for healing all conective tissue.
      Please refer up to my reply to Betsy on March 16, 2016. The information on how
      Ray is finally being healed of COPD is in my reply!!!! Your horse can overcome this disease!

      • Susan says:

        Thanks for your response. That gets me started. I’ve already tried adding nettle, milk thistle, fenugreek, and dong quai on his feed (because they were easy to buy locally). I haven’t noticed a difference yet, but then again, maybe I’m not giving enough. My horse has been on Dex all winter and is currently down to a half dose. He usually gets healthier in the summer once he is on grass. How would you go about introducing the enzymes? Would you take him off the steriods first? Thanks for the MSM tip. Your post is the first positive article I’ve read about treating COPD.

        • Fonna Lawhon says:

          By all means give enzymes with steriods.
          I hope you look into and learn how
          Dr. Wessner treats COPD with homeopathic nosodes!!

  6. Karen says:

    Hi Fonna
    I was wondering where you have found info on Turmeric causing a hyper immune state and that being bad for COPD? I am not sure I understand the connection there or what you mean. All info I can find on turmeric is that it is helpful with allergies etc. and helps to boost the immune system.
    Is there anything you can send me to demonstrate what you are writing?
    thank you so much
    Please email me directly if possible – thanks

  7. Fonna Lawhon says:

    I found that information on Th1 and Th2 searches, looking at the autoimmune diseases. All allergies are Th2 dominate, high Ige levels confirm allergies. I tried turmeric a couple of times, it made Ray worse.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Hi Fonna, I saw in your most recent comments that you are now recommending trying homeopathic nosodes for COPD. Does this mean that the Equine Bartonella Kit did not work for your horse? How is your horse’s breathing doing now? Great info in your article, thanks for sharing!

  9. Fonna Lawhon says:

    Hi Rebecca, Sorry about this late response, I’ve recently moved from SW Florida to North Central Fl.. Very overwhelming!! The Bartonella Kit did not work for Ray, but the homeopathic nosodes eliminated his COPD for 4 weeks! Ray did not respond to the nosodes a second time for some reason. Dr. Wessner tried everything he could. Treatment ended mid November 2016. Honestly, I would recommend Dr. Wessner, he has cured many horses with nosodes.
    I relied on low dose Dex and Coltsfoot tincture for his cough.I continued to search for something to help him. On Dec. 2, I tried Black Seed powder ( nigella sativa ) an herb I’d never tried. Using 2 Tsp. 2X daily. I also added Black Seed Oil 10 cc 2X daily. It stopped his cough in 5 days. It is also an anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. I’m waiting to see how much it will help.
    I’m seeing a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor who has given Ray one session of acupuncture, an electrode treatment, and prescribed a TCM Formula. This is in combination with the Black Seed powder and oil. I’ve
    already seen improvement in Ray.
    I sure hope this update will benefit you and your horse!

  10. Fonna Lawhon says:

    In regard to the Black Seed Oil, 10 cc is given by mouth with a syringe.

  11. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for your response and all the great info! Very helpful!

  12. hi…I have an Polish Arabian horse names Baqui…he is 17 yrs old and means the world to me…he is my baby from the first day I saw him coming out of his mother…My horse has this coughi that has never gone away since he ate some bad hay…I had to water down the hay all through the winter…the man that sold the hay to me said it was good hay…come to find out it wasn’t and my horse got sick…He has had this cough for almost 3 yrs. now…it gets worse in the winter…and hardly coughs in he summer time…anyway, the vet told me he has COPD…he has a discharge coming out of his right side of his nosteral which ranges from white to yellow…He has been seen by my vet and she has been prescribing me all kinds of seroids and pain meds…it happens every year…I want to find a better alternative in meds…pills and shots are hard for me to give to my horse…I can feel the pain in his eyes…sometimes his hoofs get inflamed and they hurt him to walk…I have to leave him outside for hours until the heat disapates…it is alot of work for me and the expense is hurendus…!!! my horse gets the best of care and the best vet there is….but my question is this…will he always have COPD for the rest of his life and will it get worse as he ages??? Is there somekind of pill, liquid, shot, or something that I can get to give it to him so that he doesn’t have to endure all of the uncomfortable coughing, etc…I really tearing my hair out and I am financially getting drained…PLEASE HELP ME OUT AND MY HORSE…PLEASE…!!!

    • Casie says:

      Hi Ursula. So sorry to hear about your horse, and I know that must be frustrating. A lot of these conditions take a lot of trial and error and patience on our part. COPD can be managed, but it may never go away completely. I would suggest trying some of the things mentioned in this blog post to start with. Making sure your horse’s trace mineral needs are met is also very important with conditions like COPD. I would offer a good free trace trace mineral if you can. Cut out any sugar in the diet that you can (no sweet feeds, etc.) Also, controlling dust is very important and it sounds like you’ve been doing that with his hay, but you may need to keep doing that. Is the horse kept outdoors or inside a barn? Barns can contain a lot of dust too. Keep searching for answers–there are so many alternatives to steroid injections and drugs. I wish you and your horse the best of luck.

  13. Betsy Dabbert says:

    Hi Fonna, this is Betsy again. I wrote to you back in March of 2016. Well I tried the Bartonella Kit for my sweet Arab and within 15 days of protocol completion her COPD flared up and we were forced to put her on 3 days of Dex and her Inhaler. Her summer was spent on the inhaler and a few dosages of Albuterol. Neither really helped but got her thru the summer. We did have to give her a 5 day course of Dex in September and began giving her Triple Crown Senior and Balancer because of her weight loss. Her body condition is normal again and had not had an episode since September until last week. My vet gave me another round of Dex and told me that I should have been giving her the inhaler as maintenance every day? I was unaware of this. She has also been on Heave Ho for past 5 months but I have not seen a difference and have chosen to stop after this last container. I went back and read your response regarding Dr. Wessner and nosodes and will be calling him on Monday. I have many books on herbs and have purchased some in bulk ie: milk thistle, dandelion, coltsfoot etc but am not sure how much to give and for how long. I have Mary and Gregory Tilfords herb book but it is not clear what a protocol would be for horses. Can you suggest another book or give me a safe starting point. Thanks so much for your help.

  14. Betsy Dabbert says:

    Hi Fonna, I neglected to tell you that my horse is on Chia Seeds recommended by a holistic vet. Should I stop immediately? Second; are you using N Acetyl L Cystine by Smartpak or another source? I also found the Perilla Powder and Seed oil through Amazon and is organic. Is there a particular one you use? Sorry for second post everyone….

  15. Fonna Lawhon says:

    Hello again Betsy!
    Thank you for your update. I sure understand the ups and downs of this disease. If you haven’t, please read the post by Rebecca dated Dec. 3, 2016 and my update reply dated Dec. 23, 2016. I think it’s wonderful that you’re calling Dr. Wessner, I surely wish healing results!!
    Regarding herbs and dosing, I generally use a tablespoon 2x daily. You should notice it helping or not within 4-5 weeks. Amazon supplied N Acetyl Cystine by Bulk Supplements, also the Perilla oil. If Chia seeds are helping keep it up, stop otherwise. I continued my search for something new to try when I moved to Ocala, Fl in October 2016. After trying Black Cumin Seed in December, I would highly recommend using it. It stopped Ray’s cough in 5 days and it hasn’t returned. I wish I’d known about it years ago! I’m feeding Amazing Herbs in ground form, 1 T 2x daily. And dosing Herbal Secrets Black Seed Oil by mouth by syringe 10c 2x daily. A little cherry jello powder in it really helps! Both are from Amazon. I’ve also been using Comfrey Leaf since October, 1 T 2x daily. It stimulates new cell growth helping the lungs heal. To be safe, it’s best to feed milk thistle when using Comfrey. The TCM vet treating Ray said he is using his lungs full capacity! Along with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, Ray has improved greatly. Breathing perfectly at times. The vets chiropractic work is changing his posture opening his chest, allowing him to breathe easier and relax. Ray and I both are very fortunate!
    I truly hope this update helps you and your horse.

  16. With Equine Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, in most cases an inflammatory brochiolitis results from a hypersensitivity reaction to inhaled allergens, as well as non-allergic airway over reaction to inhaled irritants and other substances such as endotoxin. Horses commonly develop coughing, mucopurulent nasal discharge (especially when the head is lowered or after exercise) and increased expiratory effort (often with a double lift on expiration). Often there is a history of ‘snot on the ground’ outside the stable door in the morning. These symptoms result from bronchospasm and accumulation of airway secretions, which also cause obstruction of the airways and often an increased respiratory rate.

  17. Scotlynn says:

    Hello, i was wondering what dosages and herbs you reccomend the most, very interested in the N-acetyl L-Cystein and perilla powder and seed oil just not to sure on the dosages. Thank you.

  18. Joella says:

    Hi Fonna,
    How is Ray doing now? Did the black seed powder and oil continue to help? Did you also continue the cysteine & perilla? Where did you souce the above. Hope Ray is doing great!

    • Fonna Lawhon says:

      Thanks Joella for your inquiry. I stopped Black seed oil June 2017 it was causing fat pockets! I got rid of them with fat burner supplements thankfully. Trial & Error. I stopped the powder too. Ray has not coughed since. I continue to use perilla powder for leukotrienes and added quercetin for histamines. I stopped NAC/cysteine
      because it thins mucas in his lungs making him wheeze more.
      Ray is actually doing very good right now although dealing with brutal heat & humidity in Florida causing some heaving. He did great last winter and this past spring.. He started the COPD nosode again this March (mentioned in comments above ). I still recommend trying the nosode,under quidance of Dr. Wessnner.
      My source is the internet. I questioned the allergy cascade then searched for example what reduces leukotrienes. Seemed very important since they are 100 times more powerful than histamines!! I hope this info is of value to you & your horse. Fonna

  19. Teri says:

    Wonderful great information! Thank you so much for sharing! I’m right here with you on all the trials and errors and have done many similar things with my 26 yr old mare who’s dam died from COPD complications.
    It truly is an individual trial and error… we have been at it for 6 years now and have been fortunate to have avoided Dex and Albuterol tho we really struggled. The summer here on the coast of NC gets her every year. NAC did not work and then she became sensitive to all menthols and mints. What initially worked, stopped. Like you, we have been through a small fortune but bound and determined to manage it in a healthy way. Ironically I developed several AI diseases included MCAD also along with Crohns and Hashimotos left undiagnosed and treated til cancer. Tumeric and Quercitin were disastrous! My girl definitely has issues with ragweed and straight orchard hay set her off this year.

    The biggest thing I have seen help her is soaking and thoroughly wetting down her hay. She was hypothyroid and I addressed that with iodine supplementation (that also factors into the health of lungs!) Her thyroud is strong and hheajthy again. Currently she does 6 dissolved zyrtecs a day and our saving grace has been the herbal powder Heave Ho! Now even at 26 yrs young and copd we can ride a small jump course on our best days and always hit the trails we are both holding our own ! And I’m thrilled but still dreading that one day will come.
    My greatest desire is to see more research done on the treatment of inflammation and TH2 & TH1 with LDN. There are studies with dogs and cats with great success… I myself take it and its amazing! I’m still doing research on it for horses and will probably have to experiment with it when we hit that next stage but for now we are thrilled holding our own ❣ we have a commercial homeopathic remedy liquid we use on our worst days and it keeps her comfortable. Having worked with homeopathic for 30+ yrs comes in useful as does kinesiology muscle testing to know what things benefit and dosages or strengths and wgat to avoid that is harmful to her.
    Have you ever checked into the nebulizer silver cheated or nano particles? That’s on our to do list next major flare. PEMF looks promising also. Looking at Perilla too.
    I am so very grateful for like minded people like you! Thank you sooo much for sharing AND doing!

  20. Fonna Lawhon says:

    Thank you Teri for an informative thoughtful post! You’re right we are like minded!
    Answering your questions, I agree LDN should be used in horses with COPD.. A few years ago I discussed that with a pharmacist at Rood & Riddle. With no prior experience he only saw it as liability.
    I did try a nebulizer last year with the colloidal silver. It worked great at loosening mucus. So good, it scared me. It increased wheezing, I quit. Later a vet told me I needed to continue, it was normal. I haven’t.
    Your luck with Heave Ho is great but interesting. Did not work for Ray.
    I do recommend you consider contacting Dr. Wessner, to try the COPD nosode. It is the only cure available . It is a true commitment , taking a couple of years to complete healing. It worked for Ray 5 weeks. Ray has a polarity problem, he needs to operate in the North field ( a complicated topic ) to accept the nosode. So he has been off and on it at times.
    I do have great news to report!!!! My latest research has brought fantastic results! combines specific strains of probiotics that stop lung inflammation and allergies in their product BioFlora. Adding Rosemary extract powder 2 teaspoons. 2 x daily brought the best results. Ray has been breathing 98%-100% wheeze and heave free for 2 months!!! It’s absolutely amazing! Hoping it keeps working in the heat and humidity of summer.
    Wishing you and your horse the best of health!

  21. Kathy Muir says:

    I also have a horse with COPD he is 16 years old now and he has been on dexamethasone for about six or seven years and I am looking for an alternative to that because it is caused laminitis which we got through but I don’t want to go through it again I would like to have some natural ways of treating him. Thank you for your article it has given me a lot of insight and what I can help him with.

  22. Tonya says:

    I loved the article but after reading some of the comments, I am confused. Doesn’t take much to confuse me, so don’t take that personal. One of my mares has severe allergies andI worry it will eventually lead to heaves as I hear they can be very much connected. Ive been using Rosehips, Bee pollen, had her on Equishield which has quercetin and flax, I tried Bye Bye Itch from Hilton Herbs, I just recently purchased Immubiome Breathe and Immune and hoping it will help. What i was confused by was that you mentioned Chia and Quercetin as no-no’s for horses with allergies but in 2018 you mentioned that you added quercetin for histamines. My mare also gets chia for omegas. I read that flax can be high in phytoestrogens so Im cautious about flax.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Tonya, This was a guest post about one person’s experience, so views may be different than what has been stated in my own posts. Sorry for the confusion!

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