Symptoms That May Indicate Illness in Horses

Horses are beautiful creatures that should be looked after with care. The powerful animals display their well-being through reactions, conditions, and behaviors. Horse owners should be able to recognize a problem with a horse and perform first aid. It is advisable to call a vet to do a thorough check on the horse. New horse owners often overreact when their horses exhibit symptoms of an illness. Some of the symptoms may be due to a minor problem which the vet can treat easily. Here are some of the symptoms that may indicate illness in horses.


Horses tend to isolate themselves when they are sick. Horses that suddenly stop feeding with the rest of the herd or lag behind yet they are usually upfront may have a problem. Such a horse might also be standing around while the rest are cavorting. It is advisable to seek help from a vet when a horse displays such behavior.

Bad Breath

Sometimes, horses may have bad breath from either the nostrils or mouth. The bad breath may be caused by a sinus infection or an infected tooth. Sinus infections are at times associated with nasal discharge. It is important to have a vet do an expert inspection on a horse with such symptoms.

Bowel Changes

Abdominal distress and little manure indicate a partial intestinal blockage. Hard, dry feces of a horse show low levels of water intake. A horse may develop impaction colic during cold weather. This is because horses do not drink enough water during cold weather to maintain feed mobility through the digestive tract. Additional fresh green grass may cause diarrhea in a horse. Potomac fever may cause diarrhea to persist. Diarrhea can easily dehydrate a horse within a few hours. Horses with such symptoms need to be monitored closely and information relayed to a vet.


Like human beings, horses also get depressed when sick. Restlessness might indicate fever on a horse. Fever on a horse shows that it is fighting an infection. It is advisable to take the temperatures of such a horse and look out for other symptoms.

You should observe your horses regularly for any unusual behavior. Inspect them regularly for physical injuries. If you observe any symptoms of illness, isolate the affected horse from others to avoid disease transmission. Have any unwell horse looked at by a qualified animal health expert as soon as possible.