All Choked Up: Equine Esophageal Osbructions

By Garrett Metcalf, DVM

Horses that experience an esophageal obstruction can be a quite frightening and confusing situation at times for horse owners, especially if it is witnessed when it occurs. Horses do not technically choke per se in comparison to a human choke that causes airway obstruction, but rather have a bolus of feed or other objects that become lodged in the esophagus at various levels.

In other words, standard emergency procedures in humans like the Heimlich maneuver will not correct an esophageal obstruction, but there are several techniques to correct these obstructions in horses. Additionally there can be complications that can develop secondary to the choke that may put the horses’ life in danger.

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