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Choke In Horses

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What is Choke?:

Choke is when something becomes lodged in the horses esophagus. The tube between the horses mouth and stomach becomes blocked and the horse can not swallow.

What Causes Choke?:

Most often the obstruction will be poorly chewed and quickly swallowed food. But it is possible for curious horses to swallow foreign objects or bits of wood if they have been chewing stall walls or trees.

What are the Signs of Choke?:

Signs of choke are:

  • Repeated attempts to swallow.
  • Distress that may include sweating and other colic like symptoms.
  • Food stuff may appear in the nostrils.
  • The blockage may be felt through the skin part way down the neck.
  • Salivation.

    What Should I Do if my Horse is Choking?:

    Choke is a medical emergency. If you suspect your horse or pony of choking call the veterinarian at once. Remove any feed from the horse's stall. If you can feel the lump where the blockage is located do not try to manipulate it in any way. The esophagus could become damaged or a bit of food could enter the airways - a situation that could lead to pneumonia.

    How Can I Prevent Choke?:

    Choke can be prevented by:

    • Soaking pelleted food like beet pulp that can increase in size if exposed to moisture
    • Slowing greedy eaters by putting a few large rocks in the feed tub to make the horse pick up its food more slowly.
    • Breaking up large piece of hay cubes that might be difficult to chew.
    • Avoiding large cubed food.
    • Feeding carrots, apples or other treats in flat slices that must be chewed.

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