3 Things to do for a horse with choke

As you wait for your veterinarian, keep a horse with choke as calm as possible. Watch him carefully but resist the urge to intervene.

Prevent the horse from eating or drinking.

Remove or empty feed and water buckets and do not allow the horse with choke to graze. Anything ingested will come up against the blockage, making the situation worse.

horse with choke, choking
While you wait for the veterinarian, prevent a horse with choke from eating and drinking. (Getty Images)

1. Encourage the horse to stand quietly with his head lowered.

This will reduce the likelihood that material from the blockage will be drawn into the lungs, which can result in pneumonia. Do not force the horse’s head down. Instead, let him stand in a quiet area of the barn; bring in a companion if that will help.

2. Keep an eye on nasal drainage.

In most cases of choke, backed-up grain will eventually start leaking from the nostrils. Wipe away the discharge with a clean rag and repeat every five minutes or so. Pay attention to the volume, color and consistency of the material so you can describe it to your veterinarian. Also note if the drainage stops, which can be a sign the blockage has cleared on its own.

3. Don’t do anything beyond comforting the horse.

Resist the temptation to try to ease the condition: Do not administer any medication, and avoid home remedies for choke, including massaging the horse’s neck or using a garden hose to “flush” away the blockage—none are effective. In fact, these measures will likely make the situation much worse. Remember that, unlike people, horses can still breathe with a blocked esophagus, so there is no immediate, lifesaving need to resolve the choke.

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