No matter how carefully we care for our horses, sometimes they will get ill despite our very best efforts. It can be a worrying time if it is not instantly obvious what the problem is, so it’s a great idea to read up on common conditions and their symptoms so that it makes it a little easier to pinpoint the issuewhen it arises. 

For our latest blog we have focused on the most common respiratory conditions in horses, with a focus on what to look for and how to treat them. 

What are the most common respiratory conditions in horses?

Common Cold

Yes, horses can catch a cold! Unfortunately it can spread just as easily as the human cold, so it is important to contact your vet for guidance and also to keep your horse separated from any others to try and prevent it passing onto other animals. 


If your horse has a cold then it can often be accompanied by a cough. Other types of cough can be caused by allergies, most commonly as a reaction to dust, or a viral/bacterial infection. It is again a good idea to separate your horse from others until you know which type of cough they have, as well as asking for guidance from a vet who will be able to help pinpoint what the cause is.

What are the symptoms of a respiratory condition in horses?

Symptoms of respiratory conditions can be fairly easy to spot if you know what you are looking for.

  • A blocked or runny nose
  • High temperature
  • Breathlessness
  • A cough
  • Coughing up mucus, phlegm or blood
  • Wheezing
  • Lethargy
  • Crackling sound in the lungs

How do I treat a respiratory condition in my horse?

As with humans, it is important to allow a horse to rest if you suspect a respiratory condition. Keep them in a stable if you can, as long as it is well ventilated for fresh air. Ensure that they have plenty of fresh water available and offer soft foods whenever possible, just in case they have a sore throat and are having trouble swallowing. 

Contact your vet to discuss your suspicions. They will most likely visit your horse for an examination and may possibly take a blood test. If the cause appears to be viral or bacterial, it is often the case that the vet will prescribe antibiotics and rest as treatment. If the condition does not seem too bad, they may just suggest plenty of rest on order for them to recover naturally.

Post By Kimberley Roderick