Underperforming racehorses could have some form of asthma

For racehorses who are not performing at their best, the issue can often be traced to the lungs.

In one study of thoroughbred racehorses, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 80 percent of them had mild or moderate asthma.

Laurent Couëtil, a professor in Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and director of their Equine Sports Medicine Center, has developed a new lung function test for horses that uses a series of tanks to mimic deep inhalation and exhalation.

A study led by Professor Laurent Couëtil found that 80 per cent of thoroughbred racehorses surveyed had mild or moderate asthma. (Purdue University Photo/Rebecca Wilcox)

The machine at Purdue, which can detect even mild asthma, is the only one in the world capable of such a test.

An equine treadmill housed in Purdue’s Equine Sports Medicine Center is used to test for cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

For those that don’t, the issue can often be traced to the lungs.

Laurent Couëtil and horseLaurent Couëtil uses an equine nebulizer to administer treatment for asthma. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca Wilcox).

“Unlike the heart or muscle, the lung in the horse athlete is a limiting factor,” said Laurent Couëtil  of Purdue University’s Equine Sports Medicine Centre.

“Even in healthy horses, breathing is a limiting factor on performance. So if you take a little bit away from that, the consequences can be severe,” he explained.

Couëtil, who is also a professor of large animal internal medicine in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine,  has spent much of his career treating and researching equine respiratory disease.

However, it wasn’t until 2016 that “equine asthma” was an official diagnosis, when Couëtil collaborated with three other researchers to argue for the adoption of the term in the Equine Veterinary Journal.





Leave a Reply