Choke is one of the top 10 emergencies treated by equine veterinarians. Choke occurs when a horse can no longer swallow because the esophagus is blocked. Unlike when we choke; horses are normally able to breathe however they may need veterinarian intervention to help pass the blockage.
A few common reasons for choke to occur in horses are: if a horse cannot properly grind its food, doesn’t have access to water while they are consuming dry feed or if they have unintentionally swallowed a foreign object like a twig in their hay, or wood particle from cribbing.
Signs of choke include: coughing, continually extending the neck, lack of interest in food, nasal discharge, drooling, an increased heart rate, or a lump on the side of the neck.
If you suspect your horse is experiencing choke, please contact your veterinarian immediately.