OBSTRUCTIVE pulmonary disease in the horse is typified by two common, related conditions - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and summer pasture associated obstructive pulmonary disease (SPAOPD). Recently, the term recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) has been suggested to encompass both conditions. Other conditions, including small airway inflammatory disease, exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage, lungworm and primary viral or bacterial airway disease, may also involve components of obstructive pulmonary disease. A limited number of preparations carrying equine product licences may be used for the treatment of equine RAO although not all of these are licensed specifically for pulmonary diseases. There are, however, many more products licensed for the treatment of respiratory disease in humans which may also benefit horses suffering from obstructive pulmonary diseases. This article discusses various therapeutic agents which are useful in the management of RAO, including a number of non-licensed products which are known to have been used safely and effectively in horses. In many cases, inhalation therapy offers considerable advantages over systemic therapy and is associated with a lower risk of side effects.
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