Common Signs Of Sickness In Horses

Are you worried about your horse? When it comes to identifying sickness in horses, there are many different signs to watch out for.

Your horse may become anxious or lose his appetite. You may notice that his breathing rate or heart rate has increased. Others have pale gums and cold, sweaty feet.

Here are several horse health signs that you need to be on the lookout for! Whether your horse is a hobby or a professional athlete, you’ll want to keep reading to ensure their well-being.

1. Poor Appetite

A horse’s appetite is usually as hearty as its hooves are strong. So, if your four-legged friend suddenly becomes a picky eater or refuses food altogether, it’s time to take notice. Poor appetite can be a sign of various underlying equine diseases, from minor stomach discomfort to more serious health concerns.


Watch out for your horse leaving a significant amount of its feed untouched or eating much less than usual. Sometimes, they might even turn up their nose at their favorite treats. Weight loss over time is another red flag.


To prevent poor appetite, make sure your horse is up to date with its vaccinations and deworming schedule. Provide regular dental care to avoid painful mouth issues that might discourage eating. Keep their living area clean and comfortable to reduce stress, as stress can impact appetite.

And most importantly, ensure they have a balanced diet and access to fresh, clean water at all times.

If you notice your horse has a persistently poor appetite despite your best efforts, it’s time to consult a Horse vet. They can help identify the underlying cause and provide the necessary treatment.

2. Lethargy and Depression

Horses are typically known for their spirited nature. So, when you see your horse acting unusually lethargic or depressed, it’s a cause for concern. Horses that are under the weather often display these signs as their body tries to cope with an illness.


Lethargic horses might appear unusually slow, reluctant to move, or unwilling to engage in their usual activities. They might stand with their head down, eyes half-lidded, and ears drooping. Depressed horses can exhibit a lack of interest in their surroundings, reduced social interaction, and even audible sighs of discomfort.


Preventing lethargy and depression in horses begins with regular exercise and mental stimulation. A bored horse is more likely to become depressed. Ensure they have a clean and safe living environment free from hazards.

Keep up with their routine vaccinations and wellness checks. Early detection of illnesses can prevent them from progressing to a stage where lethargy sets in.

It’s also crucial to establish a strong bond with your horse through gentle training and positive reinforcement. This can help in early detection since you’ll be more attuned to any changes in their behavior.

3. Coughing or Wheezing

Coughing or wheezing is also one of the most common signs that your horse might not be feeling their best. In simpler terms, if your horse sounds like they have a persistent cold, it’s time to pay attention.


You’ll notice your horse coughing repeatedly or making wheezing sounds, like a person with a stuffy nose. They might also have nasal discharge, which can be clear or yellowish.


To prevent coughing or wheezing, keep your horse’s environment clean and well-ventilated. Ensure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times, as dehydration can exacerbate respiratory issues.

Vaccinations against common equine respiratory diseases are also essential. Regular check-ups with your vet can catch early signs of respiratory problems.

If you notice coughing or wheezing in your horse, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian promptly. They can perform tests to determine the cause, which could range from allergies to infections. Prompt treatment can prevent the condition from worsening.

4. Diarrhea And Colic

Diarrhea and colic are digestive problems that can make your horse uncomfortable and ill.


Diarrhea in horses is quite evident – you’ll see loose, watery stools. Colic, on the other hand, manifests as severe abdominal pain. Signs of colic include restlessness, sweating, pawing at the ground, and rolling on the ground.


Prevention begins with a well-balanced diet. Ensure your horse’s diet consists of high-quality forage, and avoid sudden changes in their feed. Proper hydration is crucial, so always provide access to clean water.

If you suspect colic, it’s crucial to contact your veterinarian immediately. Colitis can be life-threatening if left untreated.

In the case of diarrhea, monitor your horse closely and make dietary adjustments as advised by your vet. Dehydration is a significant concern with diarrhea, so ensure your horse continues to drink water.

5. Poor Skin and Coat Condition

Another most noticeable sign of a sick horse is a dull, lackluster coat accompanied by unhealthy skin. It’s like your horse’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right with their internal well-being. Here’s a closer look at the symptoms and how to prevent them.


A healthy horse should have a shiny, vibrant coat. If you notice a lack of luster, it could be due to various factors, including nutritional deficiencies or underlying health issues.

Also, healthy equine skin should be supple and smooth. Sick horses may develop dry, flaky skin or even experience hair loss in certain areas.

Slower hair growth can also indicate poor health. If your horse’s mane and tail seem to be growing at a snail’s pace, it’s time to investigate.


Regular grooming not only keeps your horse clean but also allows you to inspect their skin and coat closely. It promotes blood circulation and distributes natural oils, helping maintain a healthy shine.

Plus, implement a consistent parasite control program. Internal and external parasites can wreak havoc on your horse’s skin and coat. Consult your vet for the right deworming schedule.

Learn More About Sickness in Horses Today

It is essential to be aware of any signs of sickness in horses and take action accordingly. Monitor feed and water intake, body temperature, and any changes in behavior.

Take the necessary steps to protect your horse’s health and consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns. Stay informed and vigilant!

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