With Magic’s diagnosis of Recurrent Airway Obstruction(RAO), I have been researching the disease. I thought that I would share some of the resources that I have found. The two best treatments for RAO that I have found are the Aero mask ($324.50) which can deliver non-steroidal treatments directly to the lungs and a new ultra sonic device called a VibraVM ($1500) that uses sound waves to break up the mucus and soothe the inflammation. The VibraVM is the best option simply because it requires no medication at all.
Articles about RAO
Respiratory Problems in Horses – RAO, COPD and SPAOD at Equi-therapy. Good overview of the types of respiratory diseases in equines.
The Horse has several excellent articles on equine respiratory problems. The link should take you to an index of them. You have to sign up for access to the articles but it’s free and The Horse always has great and informative articles.
The Merck Veterinary Manual has an online guide that goes into the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Equine RAO. If you are looking for a more technical reference, this is the one to read.
Kentucky Equine Research has another excellent article on Heaves and Inflammatory Airway Disease.
Veterinary Practice News has an article on Helping Horses Breathe Easier.
There is also a Yahoo Group “Breath of Fresh Air” that is a support group for RAO/Heaves owners.
The best possible treatment and management technique for RAO is to remove any contact with allergens. A change of environment has been proven to be the most effective treatment for RAO. In general you manage RAO by controlling the allergens to which a horse is exposed. Most horses have a barn related allergy to dust or mold in hay and bedding. The following are the most commonly recommended measures that you can use to control these:
- If allergens are related to being stabled, keep horse on pasture and out of barn.
- Soak and wash all hay to remove dust and mold spores or feed a dust free alternative such as beet pulp or hay cubes.
- Use dust free bedding such as wood shavings, shredded paper or cardboard. Hay or straw is not recommended for bedding.
- If reactions are mild, you might be able to manage it by just removing the horse from the barn while cleaning or putting down new bedding.
- If allergies are summer pasture related, a change in location may be the most beneficial for the horse.
American Horse Daily has a good article on the treatment of RAO or Heaves.
There are several drugs that are used to treat RAO in equines. The most common are dexamethasone and clenbuterol. Albuterol is also used sometimes but clenbuterol is a longer lasting option.
Delivering the inhaled medications can be a problem as horses will not willing use the puffer system that humans use. An Aero Mask or Equine Haler are masks that deliver it in a less stressful method for equines.
I am still searching and will be adding to this post as I find more and better resources.
Do you have any experience with RAO? What have you found most effective?