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[RC] animals and smoke inhalation - Susan E. Garlinghouse, DVM

Since the topic has arisen about the So Cal wildfires, for those that were in the affected fire areas, and/or those that were subjected to the extremely smoky air quality conditions, may I suggest that owners be really generous about giving these horses time off to recover before asking them for vigorous exercise again.  Performance horses REALLY depend on a healthy respiratory system, and the effects of smoke can take 4-6 weeks to heal, depending on the exposure.  If stressed (and my personal opinion of ‘stressed’ would be exercise that would make them break a sweat) while the respiratory tissues are still irritated, the results can be permanent injury and decrease in performance and health.  Same goes for humans, dogs, etc.   Animals with respiratory irritation are also more prone to secondary bacterial infections, so something else to consider.


Just a thought that for those that got a good dose of the smoke (and if you live in So Cal, then didn’t we all), don’t be in a hurry to get back to conditioning and hard exercise.  A thousand or so extra units of vitamin E for a 1000 lb horse, or any good blend of antioxidants for a few weeks wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.  If any animal seems to be having difficulty breathing, coughing, is running a fever or otherwise seems sick, get some veterinary help.  My hospital is just now unloading its share of animals recovering from varying degrees of smoke inhalation this past week (God bless steroids and oxygen).




Susan Garlinghouse, DVM