Getting all choked up

By Connie Orcutt • Published: December 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

Contrary to choking in people, a choke in a horse means a blockage of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.

A horse with a choke may appear anxious when trying to swallow or may gag or drool. Any food or water the horse attempts to swallow has no place to go but up, into and out of the nose. Pneumonia can result from fluid or food escaping into the airway.

A choke is usually made up of compacted food. It can be the result of a dry diet, a horse gobbling his food or dental problems that prevent normal chewing, especially in older horses.

A persistent choke can cause esophageal [ē-sahf-ah-GĒ-ul] ulcers. Fortunately, the blockage can usually be seen through an endoscope and treated by hydrating the mass before massaging it into the stomach.

The bottom line? Don’t wait if you think your horse is getting all choked up.