Causes of Coughing 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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42 Responses

  1. My horse only at night when at rest

  2. faith says:

    Thanks for the is good to know all of that.

  3. jake benton says:

    Is there a way to help the cough go away if its just mucous?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Jake,

      It depends on what the cough is caused from, but there are several natural remedies and homeopathic treatments that could likely help.

  4. Sharn says:

    Have a mare that acts like she is in choke everytime she eats. Hoping it is not guttural pouches

    • Casie says:

      Hi Sharn, That’s not good. Does she just do it eating concentrates or eating forage as well? Have you had her teeth and mouth checked?

  5. kenzie hopper says:

    My mare coughs while exercising especially after sitting and in arena or dusty. No other symptoms. Is there anything that can help her?

  6. Frank G. SR. says:

    One of our two Arabians (Mother to the other) started coughing in the last 2 days. She’s about 14 and were both rescues. She’s getting on in years and i’m worried . This last week temps have dropped to 60’s at night can this be the reason?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Frank-It’s hard to know what’s causing the cough. Could be the cooler weather or possibly something else. The best bet is to watch and see. If she gets worse or if other symptoms arise, I wouldn’t hesitate to get her looked at by a vet. If it turns out to be allergy related, there are some herbal remedies that might help.

  7. David Green says:

    My horse is 18 years old he’s in the pasture has developed a dry cough very persistent no discharge from the nose no fever
    I believe it probably is COPD what can I do for him

  8. john booker says:

    my 2yo racehorse has developed a dry cough usually when working drops his head and coughs , will penecilin help

  9. Kati says:

    Hi my horse Levi is 17 came to my home 1 month ago he came from a home where he has never been in a barn and has only ate corn and musty round bails of hay.Ever since he came he had a dry like cough. I don’t know what to do.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Kati, Given your horse’s age and the fact that he ate from musty round bales, he could have Heaves (Recurrent Airway Obstruction). You might check out this post to see if the symptoms match as well as for some treatment options:

      Of course, I can’t diagnose any type of illness, so getting a vet involved is a good idea as well. Good luck!

  10. Kimbery says:

    I have a 18 yr old mare that i got 6 months ago. Everytime i ride her she starts coughing at the walk! Today when i was riding her and she started coughing i noticed a sound coming from her breathing between coughs almost like a roar but very light then it stopped. She also has headshaking syndrome and today it was extremely bad i had to stop riding her. The cough is only when i am riding her in an arena that i have noticed
    She is a retired endurance horse because of the head shaking. No nasal discharge. She eats well and is otherwise healthy.

  11. Tracy says:

    I adopted a rescue horse who was underweight and came down with strangles.its been about 5 weeks and the strangles has cleared up but he had a cough when he’s eating his alfalfa. Could this be from the strangles?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Tracy, I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to this. Coughs can linger for a while (in people too), so it’s possible that it’s from Strangles, or it could be something entirely different. Middle aged and older horses are more prone to COPD as well. Does he have any nasal discharge?

  12. jonathan luna says:

    My horse gots a cough when I try to work on him what I do naturally don’t got money for the vet can I get a good advice

    • Casie says:

      Hi Jonathan, it’s hard for to say what you can do for your horse without knowing the reason why he’s coughing. There are quite a few possibilities (as listed in this post). Vets are helpful in determining the cause and then you can decide which type of treatment you want to go with. It’s like going to the doctor–yes, it can be expensive, but sometimes it helps prevent bigger problems from happening down the line.

  13. Dawn killick says:

    My horse coughs when she’s out on a trail, after shes gone up a big hill or done some canter in the field, but there isnt any discharge coming out of her nose. She hasnt been excersized in a while, so is she just unfit?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Dawn, that’s a possibility. It seems many horses cough occasionally when being ridden. If it becomes a regular occurrence or if any other symptoms arise, I wouldn’t hesitate to get her checked out though.

  14. Kylie says:

    My horse is coughing in the morning after she is eating round bale all night but don’t do it in the day time when she is not really eating we just got new hay for them and it is more richer but we we’re out at a barrel race a couple days ago and I got out of a run and she just started coughing bad and sounded like she was not getting enough air my friend said she needs a flair strip so she can get air in but why is she coughing so much a am worried about her she is a 8 year old quarter horse she don’t have any nasal discharge but does seem to breath a little harder then the other but that’s only watching from her belly when I look at her nose it don’t move that much this just started happening is it bc of the new hay is it to rich for her

    • Casie says:

      Hi Kylie–I would guess the mold or dust from the round bale is bothering her. I would switch to good quality square bales and use a slow feeder so she has hay all day. You can also wet the hay down right before feeding it. Sounds like this could be the beginnings of heaves. Might want to have her scoped by a vet as well.

  15. Paige says:

    My horse has random coughing fits in winter and early spring. We are using vicks and cough-free, and he has a run in, is fed mash (He is 16), and has good hay. He has no fever or nasal discharge, and it is exercise-induced. Any suggestions?

  16. Alexis says:

    Hi, I have a 6 year old who lives in the field and gets ridden periodically throughout the winter and quite regularly during the summer, and has recently started coughing occasionally. Today he coughed quite a bit, and his breathing had a thickish raspiness to it, with a tiny bit of discharge from his nose after our ride. Any ideas??

    • Alexis says:

      *no fever or loss of appetite

    • Casie says:

      Hi Alexis, It could be a variety of things–a virus, allergies, exercise-induced (seems to happen more in cold when they haven’t been ridden regularly). I would just keep a close eye on his symptoms. If they don’t improve in a few weeks, might want to have a vet check him out.

  17. charlotte says:

    Hi my horse only coughs of a morning this is a dry cough and doesn’t happen throughout the day at all

  18. Deb says:

    My horse very much seems like it is a hay dust cough because she eats fine dose not seem lathargic but when the hay is moved around is when i notice it and she has done this after winter before and this year the after winter clean up is later

  19. Sharon says:

    I have a rescue pony now for almost a year and she has just acquired a cough, not constantly but every now and again. she coughs in the barn and out in the pasture. It is really worry some when at night around 11 pm or 3 am with 3 short coughs so I do a barn check and no drainage or fluid from the eyes or nose. Does anyone have any Ideas or information that they can share. i have looked on the internet and found various things but nothing to substantiate her cough Thank you for reading and considering

  20. Marlene M Virga-Morris says:

    I have a Paso Fino that is 12 yrs. old. He has a cough “like” sound, it comes from deep inside, guttural. It doesn’t seem like a regular coughing sound. I noticed he seems to do this more when he has drank out of the automatic waterer in the pasture.
    He started it around a year and a half ago, I have had him for about 7 yrs. He has never been sick – ever.
    I have seven other horses, they do not sound like him when they happen to cough.
    He is a very high energy horse and when I ride him he never coughs. What the heck it it?!

    • Casie says:

      Hi Marlene, I can understand how that would be frustrating. I’m afraid I can’t offer any answers, but I would have him scoped by a vet and see if he/she can help you figure out what it is.


  21. Nicole says:

    not sure if you’ll be able to get back to me but hopefully you can. about 2 days ago my mare let out about 2 coughs before starting to eat her hay, so i watered it down and she stopped. she didnt cough the next day, so i didnt bother. this morning, she let out 3 quick dry coughs when she began to eat her hay, so i watered it down again. she is outside 24/7 and there is no dust. she has NEVER coughed within the 10 months ive owned her before this point. ive always fed the same hay throughout those months. is it the cold weather? she is only 9-10, is in VERY light work and is a fat and happy horse and is always eager to eat. but, i haven’t been around (busy with work) to hear if she is coughing throughout the day. should i be worried?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Nicole, it could be the cold weather or it could be dust or mold spores in the hay. Even if you get your hay from the same place every year, the quality can vary due to weather conditions and many other factors. If she continues to cough, then I would continue wetting the hay down since that seems to help.

  22. Jessie says:

    I have a mini who is almost a year old. When i got her she had a small dry cough then after a few days she would cough more freguent. Vet came and checked her out said it was not anything in her lungs they sounded clear was probably just a “common cold”. Gave her penicillin 10cc for 10 days and it went away. Now 5 months later she has the same thing. I am trying to find out what keeps causing this or if anyone has any ideas. She has a low fever barley a fever at all one degree above normal and is eating normal and drinking. Just had this dry cough that gets worse each day until i use penicillin for 10 days then by then it is gone. Please if anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them. Thank you!

    • Casie says:

      Hi Jessie–if it was a cold, then I’m wondering why penicillin was prescribed. Colds are viral and therefore antibiotics aren’t effective against them (they’re only effective against illnesses bacterial in origin). What is her temperature? Horses run a degree or two warmer than people so 99-101 is actually considered normal. I would take a look at what you’re feeding and her environment if there are no other symptoms (runny nose, eyes, etc.). Is the hay dusty or moldy at all? Wetting it down my help. Is she on pasture or in a barn where dust may also be a factor? Also adding some immune boosting herbs might help. I would suggest looking at

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