Best Supplements for Horses with Heaves

Nov 8, 2019

If your horse has heaves, you surely have spent a considerable amount of effort on eliminating dust, maximizing turnout, and doing everything else possible to alleviate your horse’s symptoms. If your horse is still coughing, there are several supplements that can help you to manage the symptoms. Depending on your budget and what your horse reacts to best, you may need to try several before settling on just one.

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Our Choices

There are a variety of respiratory supplements available, some of which alleviate the symptoms in certain cases of heaves. We have another article that goes into detail about the management of heaves, as well as another article ranking our favorite general respiratory supplements.

These are the top-rated supplements available on the market. Keep in mind that your vet is another excellent resource for supplement information or other things you can offer to your horse to help his breathing. All of these supplements are powders that can be mixed with food, so adding oil or molasses to help everything get mixed together is a good trick for getting the powder into your horse. Another trick is cutting an apple in half, removing the core, and putting the powder in the middle. Then you can put the halves back together and feed the apple to your horse as a treat. He will be none the wiser and all the healthier!

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Heave Ho

Best Supplement for Heaves

The Heave Ho supplement is one such supplement. It takes 10-14 days to take effect, but many horses show dramatic improvements in breathing quality. Since it has low levels of caffeine, show horses should stop using this supplement three days before competitions.

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Cough-Free Powder

Another option is Cough-Free Powder, which is a mixture of all-natural ingredients and has no caffeine. Instructions for dosage and administration may be found on the packaging.

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MSM powder

 Many owners report dramatic and rapid improvement after adding MSM powder to the diets of their horses with heaves, which has the added benefit of being a joint supplement.

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Histall-H

 Histall-H is another supplement that features a mix of natural ingredients. As it contains a large percentage of turmeric, it may not be as palatable to horses initially. Be prepared to mix it with oil, molasses, apple juice, or some other treat to disguise the flavor. For the first ten days, one ounce should be administered twice per day, and then one ounce per day as it begins to take an effect on the horse.

Natural Dietary Supplements

If you’re more interested in raw herbal supplements, these are some great alternative options.

Since heaves is a disease of a heightened inflammatory response, supplements with omega-3 fatty acids are often helpful. Flaxseed can be added directly to the horse’s grain, up to 50mL of oil per day or 100 grams of raw flaxseed.

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Flaxseed

Strong Dietary Supplement

Flaxseed oil has large amounts of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids can help your horse’s body to manage inflammation better.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplement

Weight Gain and Heaves Management

You may also consider adding an Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplement to your horse’s diet. If your horse has lost weight because of his battle with heaves, adding an oil to his diet is also a good plan for helping him gain weight without adding too much sugar to his diet.

The Omega-3 supplement is safe to feed to pregnant and lactating mares.

Natural Supplements

There are several herbal supplements that can also be beneficial to the horse suffering from heaves.

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Turmeric

Best Natural Heaves Supplement

Turmeric is food that seems to help with the inflammatory response of horses in general, as well as supporting the immune system overall.

There is a wealth of information available on the benefits of turmeric in human diets. Some of this information is science-based, and some of it is anecdotal, but the consensus seems to be that turmeric has positive impacts on the body. It is associated with improved inflammatory responses, quicker recovery after exercise, and improved immune system health. Some horses do not like the strong flavor and scent, however. In such cases, mixing the supplement with oil in the grain can ensure that they get used to the flavor. Two tablespoons per day for an adult horse is a suitable portion. Since it has not been tested extensively, turmeric is not recommended for pregnant or lactating mares.

 

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Echinacea

Great Secondary Option

Echinacea is another supplement that has been associated with respiratory and immune system health.

Again, some of the information online is scientifically strong, and some of it is merely anecdotal. However, Echinacea has been used by people to strengthen the immune system for many years. In Europe, echinacea is given to horses quite often as a supplement for the same reason. A recommended daily dose is 20-40 grams mixed with food. One potential downside to Echinacea is the body’s ability to build up resistance after a while. Many have reported that it seems to stop working if given every day for a long time. If this is the case, it may be removed from the diet for a period of time, and then reintroduced. An alternative is to feed it seasonally (for example, spring and fall when pollen and mold counts are highest) or only during symptom flare-ups. As it has not been extensively studied, consult with a vet before offering it to pregnant mares.

Conclusion

There are a number of supplements on the market that may help the horse who is suffering from heaves. Some of them are herbal, some have combinations of different herbs and medications. A horse who is suffering from heaves should be under the care of a veterinarian, and the veterinarian should be informed of all the supplements a horse may be getting. While the best way to address heaves involves minimizing environmental triggers of the coughing and wheezing, many horses can be helped by dietary supplements as well. Since some horses react better to certain supplements rather than others, it may be a good idea to try several and see which one has the greatest effect.

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