Infectious agents like viruses or bacteria are only in the minority of cases the cause of cough in horses. More frequently it is a reaction to dust or other allergens. They will cause irritation or even inflammation of the lower airways, which can thus make them more susceptible to the attack of viruses or bacteria. From experience it can be said that the level of dust in the air is much higher in the winter months. The footing of the arena can’t be watered to keep the dust down in freezing temperatures. Also, doors and windows must be kept shut, especially in the night time, in order to prevent water in buckets and pipes from freezing. In addition to that it can turn out to be impossible to water the hay of affected horses, since it will freeze quickly and then has to be disposed of. For those reasons cough is a common problem in the wintertime, which has a tendency to turn chronic. In this case acupuncture is a promising approach of treatment to loosen sticky mucous on one side and also to treat the underlying cause of an allergic reaction or a heightened sensibility to dust.
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Sweet itch is one of the diseases, which can be successfully treated with acupuncture. Treatment must be completed before gnats start being active again, which is about mid March in this area of the country. Treatment consists of 3 - 4 treatments in the first year, spaced 7 - 10 days apart. Therefore it should be started late January to early February in order to be finished before the season starts. Most of the time only one treatment is necessary before the gnat-season starts in the following years.