How to Help a Horse With Choke: 11 Steps
Choke in horses is a common condition where food becomes lodged in the esophagus, making it difficult for the horse to swallow. Although it’s rarely life-threatening, choking in horses can be uncomfortable and distressing for both the horse and the caretaker. Here are 11 steps to assist a horse experiencing choke.
Step 1: Recognize the Symptoms
The initial signs of choke include difficulty swallowing, an extended head and neck, excess salivation, and nasal discharge. The horse may also repeatedly attempt to swallow or cough.
Step 2: Remain Calm
Keep calm and approach your horse gently. A stressed animal will only exacerbate the issue.
Step 3: Remove Food Sources
Take away any food and water sources to prevent your choking horse from consuming them, as these may make the situation worse.
Step 4: Encourage Relaxation
Encourage your horse to relax by stroking its neck and speaking in soothing tones. This might help make it easier for them to dislodge the blockage on their own.
Step 5: Observe Your Horse
Monitor your horse closely. Keep an eye on their breathing and swallowing attempts to better understand how serious the obstruction is.
Step 6: Call the Veterinarian
If your horse hasn’t dislodged the blockage themselves after several minutes, contact a veterinarian for guidance.
Step 7: Assist with Dislodging
While waiting for the vet’s arrival, you may try massaging your horse’s neck gently from top to bottom to help shift the obstruction.
Step 8: Clear Discharge
Use a clean towel or cloth to remove excess saliva or discharge from their nostrils. This will provide comfort and facilitate breathing.
Step 9: Do Not Administer Medication
Refrain from administering any medications without consulting a veterinarian, as they may worsen the choke or cause complications.
Step 10: Follow Veterinarian’s Instructions
Once the veterinarian has arrived, they may perform emergency procedures, sedate your horse, and/or pass a tube to clear the obstruction. Always follow their instructions closely.
Step 11: Prevent Recurrence
After your horse has recovered, discuss preventative measures with your veterinarian to avoid future choking incidents. This may include making changes to feeding practices, such as soaking feed or providing smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
Helping a horse experiencing choke requires quick assessment, calling a veterinarian for professional assistance, and understanding how to safely provide care until help arrives. By taking these 11 steps, you can help your horse comfortably recover and prevent the chances of future choking incidents.