Michael Hipp – Farm Planner, Sound Horsekeeping
Quick tip for the horse folks:
The persistent smoke from fires affects not just people, but horses. Like us, horses are susceptible to eye, nose and throat irritations. If your eyes or throat are irritated, you can safely assume theirs are, too.
Smoke is an unhealthy combination of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, soot, hydrocarbons, and many other organic particulates. It is a mixture of solid particles and water vapor, and when it settles on the mucus membranes of your eyes or nose or throat it is those solid particles which cause the irritation. If you observe your horse blinking a lot, drinking more than normal, coughing or heaving, having a clear discharge from their eyes or nose, then they are probably suffering from smoke irritation. If you suspect that is the case there are some things you can do.
The easiest thing to prevent irritation is to limit your horse's activity during smoky periods. The more active they are the more smoke they will inhale, irritating their throat and lungs. If possible, keep them inside in a smoke-free, well ventilated area. If you notice your horse blinking more than normal, more face flies than normal, or visible discharge from the eyes, reach into your first aid kit and use a good equine eye wash to salve the irritation. Also be sure to provide plenty of clean, fresh water to keep their throats and sinuses moist to help them clear inhaled particulates. Most importantly, if irritation persists, or you observe your horse breathing heavily or having a hard time breathing, call your veterinarian. Smoke irritation inflames mucus membranes in eyes, nose and throat, and makes those areas susceptible to infection and inflammation. Bacterial infection, bronchitis and pneumonia are common in horses with severe smoke irritation, and it can take weeks or sometimes months to fully recover, so be sure to monitor your horse and call your veterinarian as soon as possible.