Canadian Innovation Helps Horses with Asthma
Source: Trudell Animal Health
A diagnosis of asthma used to mean retirement for performance horses, or in some cases, euthanasia. But with advancements in research, good management, and the development of products that help heavey, coughing horses perform, now many riders can keep their wheezing horses comfortable and extend their lives.
Equine asthma is primarily caused by environmental conditions. Hence, an important treatment for asthma is to eliminate the causes by ensuring barn environments are well-ventilated and low-dust, providing good quality feed plus soaking or steaming hay, and exercising horses in low-dust arenas.
Medical treatments are often focused on airway management. Corticosteroid medication may be used to counteract inflammation of the horse’s airways, and bronchodilators may be prescribed to open constricted airway passages.
Historically, these drugs were given orally or by injection, thereby affecting the horse’s whole system, not just the problematic airways. But systemic drug use also requires higher dosages and can produce unwanted side effects and longer elimination times.
In 1995, Trudell Animal Health (Trudell) and University of Guelph created a nebulizer called the AeroMask* to deliver a drug-containing mist which the horse inhales. Since then, inhalation treatment has largely become the preferred way to treat equine asthma by veterinarians because:
- Medications are delivered directly to the airways for immediate relief rather than medicating the whole horse, and
- There is decreased systemic absorption of drugs, which helps avoid unwanted health and behavioral side effects.
However, the cost of a nebulizer mask and medication, and the time and complexity needed to use it, can be limiting. So, with inspiration from their AeroChamber* line of valved holding chambers for humans, and the help of veterinarians, a different solution was developed.
Inhalers and the AeroHippus* Chamber
The AeroHippus* Equine Aerosol Chamber was designed as a user-friendly, inexpensive, quick treatment for inflamed airways that riders could use when needed. The handheld device pairs veterinary-prescribed medication from a human-style asthma puffer or metered-dose inhaler, with a small chamber and mask that passively delivers the aerosol medication directly to the horse’s lungs via one nostril. It’s a made-in-Canada innovation with some interesting engineering.
First off, because horses won’t inhale on command, the AeroHippus* Chamber was designed to capture and hold the medication until the horse breathes it in. Because the small medication particles are electrically charged, the chamber is made of anti-static materials that help prevent the particles from sticking and ensure that more of the medication remains available to be inhaled deep into the lungs. This enables the puffer to be activated shortly before applying the mask, reducing the potential for the horse to startle from the sound of the puffer and giving them more time to inhale the medication.
Inflammation and Cough Control
For daily inflammation management and relief from coughing flare-ups, the AeroHippus* Chamber provides flexibility to administer both corticosteroids and bronchodilators all through just one device. Its universal inhaler adapter means one chamber works with all commonly prescribed inhalers to help riders control inflammation and open constricted airways, as instructed by their veterinarian.
Administration and Acceptance
Since the AeroHippus* Chamber is simply held up to one nostril, it helps avoid the claustrophobic issues of a full mask. Designed to help keep the horse calm and comfortable during administration, the one-size-fits-all non-invasive chamber simply rests on the outside of the nostril. Feedback of correct use is provided through a visible Flow-Vu* indicator that moves to confirm the horse has actually inhaled.
Barn tough and durable, the AeroHippus* Chamber can be reused whenever the horse has a flare-up, whether that’s today or next spring, preventing unnecessary disposal and environmental waste. The AeroHippus* Chamber helps make inhalation therapy fast and easy for anyone in or out of the barn.
Embraced by the Thoroughbred racing industry and used by riders in a variety of horse sports as directed by their veterinarians, the AeroHippus* Chamber is a pretty neat invention made in London, Ontario by a company celebrating 99 years helping make Canadian lives better.
To learn more, please visit www.TrudellAnimalHealth.com