8 Common Horse Diseases That Caretakers Must Know

Horses are huge animals and fit for any purpose, such as riding and working in fields. These are possible when the equine is healthy and fit. However, horses can be prone to common diseases that would put their lives in danger when not addressed immediately. Caretakers play a vital role to know the possible health issues of the horse beforehand.

Moreover, consulting a vet can give prompt solutions for a horse that contracts a disease. The good news is most types of horse diseases are curable with full recovery rates. Some can be deadly and contagious, but giving the pet the best horse vitamin and mineral supplement can help.

Possible Causes of Horses Getting Sick

Horses won’t get very sick without reason. There are two types of horse illness, infectious and non-infectious diseases.

Since a horse is exposed in the field or to other equines, microorganisms might cause disease over the pet. On the other hand, non-infectious horse disease may arise from taking care of the pet. Nutritional deficiency and other environmental factors are one of the reasons why horses get sick.

Additionally, horses must be monitored regularly to see symptoms of diseases. This also enhances protection for the pet’s wellbeing. Mismanagement of a horse’s stable can result in so much trouble like missing and dying horses.

Symptoms Of Horse Diseases

Horse caretakers must have an idea when the horse is sick or doing well. This is important to take immediate actions once symptoms occur. Checking the pet’s condition at least twice each day can be enough to guarantee all is well. Symptoms may vary from the type of sickness. Call a vet if visible signs begin to appear, like swollen eyes, coughing, and decreased appetite.

Examples of Common Horse Diseases

A lot of diseases can affect the overall health of equine pets, and worst may lead to death. That is when experts can give immediate help to extend the life of your beloved pet. So, here are some of the common horse diseases caretakers must be familiar with:

Eye Infections

To begin with is the most common of all horse diseases, an eye infection. Eye problems on horses might cause by bacteria or a severe wound. It is painful and very quick to get worse by which consulting a vet can prevent further damage.

Eye infections can turn into blindness if left uncured. The worst scenario is when the horse’s eyes collapse entirely which will affect its overall welfare.

Symptoms include torn eyelids, inflamed eyes, tumors around the eyelid, and many more. Medications, such as ointment and gel, shall continue even at home for a faster recovery.


This is a bacterial disease common for horses that impacts their lung, skin, and respiratory system. It is caused by contamination of food and water through infected animals and bacteria called Burkholderia malleus.

The glander disease has three forms. One is a nasal form that develops in the nasal mucosa that might result in ulcers. An addition is a pulmonary form that affects the respiration of the pet. And lastly is the cutaneous form found in the horse’s tissues.

Vaccination at an early age can help prevent glanders. With proper diagnosis, antibiotics could be the main treatment of the disease.


Equine’s inability to move properly can be a sign of joint problems. Like humans, a horse can experience joint pains that will affect its daily routines. Many types of horse arthritis exist, including osteoarthritis, traumatic arthritis, and lesions.

Symptoms are visible, such as swelling and redness. This is common for aging horses wherein physical therapy can help. Another cure is anti-inflammatory drugs or the best calming supplement for horses to ease the pain.


Colic is a digestive disorder that may result in abdominal pain. It ranges from mild to severe cases thus needs an immediate cure. There are two types of colic – impact and spasmodic colic.

Impact colic may happen due to gut stretch when the horse feed is too dry or coarse. A sign of horses suffering from impact colic is when they do belly bite and unnecessary kicking motions. They may also lie and roll on the ground. On the other hand, excessive gas on the gut can cause spasmodic colic.

Other possible signs of colic disease are anxiety, increased pulse rate, dehydration, and lack of appetite.


A farm contains a variety of rabid animals, such as poisonous snakes. This one is considered a viral horse disease that may turn severe if not treated right away. It transfers through a bite on which the saliva of the infected animal will enter the wound.

It can also affect the neurologic system of the horse in worse scenarios. Clinical symptoms will exist shortly, such as muscle paralysis, body temperature changes, salivation, irritability, and even loss of appetite. Some horses may develop depression and restlessness due to the disease.

Sadly, no cure has arrived for horse rabies once clinical signs appear. Similar to glanders, pre-exposure vaccines can prevent rabies on equines.

Swamp Fever

An anemia infectious virus is transmitted to horses through blood-sucking insect bites. It will begin with a high fever up to 105 F. The first remedy is to isolate the infected horse from other farm animals to reduce spreading the virus. The possible results of swamp fever are abortion and destroying the equine’s red blood cells.


Laminitis is a horse hoof disease with degrees of severity because of the sensitive tissues on the hoof. It often happens on overweight horses thus maintaining the pet’s diet is necessary. Excessive carbohydrates are not good for horses though it is a great energy source. Following a diet chart provided by a vet can help to stop obesity.
Its visible symptom is an inability to walk due to severe pain on the horse hoof. The pulse rate also increases because of so much pain. Painkillers can correct the situation right away, with proper consultation.


Respiratory disease can also happen on equines like influenza. When horses experience cough in a couple of days, there is a chance the pet has an influenza disease. It can be transferred to other groups of horses through droplets. Therefore, the incubation period is a must.
The disease will show symptoms such as increased body temperature, nasal discharge, and coughing. A bacterial infection can make the situation worse. Antibiotics help to prevent such infections, or better consult your vet.

Influenza vaccines do exist that come with a variety of combined treatments. It can avoid other horse diseases like tetanus and herpes virus.

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, dealing with horse diseases needs the help of an expert. We mentioned the most common types of diseases that may turn severe if untreated. One way to keep horses healthy is to give them the right feed and treatment every day. Talk to your vet about the immediate actions to avoid the worst situations.

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