chokeEsophageal obstruction, commonly called choke, occurs when anything a horse eats becomes lodged in its esophagus instead of moving freely into the stomach.

While any number of ingested materials can cause choke, it most commonly involves small particle feeds (grain, bran) rather than long fiber feeds (hay, forage).

Poor dental condition is also a risk factor. If chewing becomes a painful experience, the horse will swallow a mouthful of feed at once rather than chewing smaller amounts.

The early appearance of a choked horse is often not dramatic; signs may be limited to an intermittent cough and attempts to swallow.

As the obstruction compacts, fluid builds up behind it. At this point, the horse is usually distressed and food particles are obvious at both nostrils.

We consider any episode of choke to be an emergency. While an occasional case may resolve spontaneously, most require veterinary intervention and respond well if treated promptly.

Please Dr. Werner a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your horse has a choke.

Call us at 860.653.5088 to learn more about diagnosing and treating Choke at Werner Equine.