It might start as a minor cough or runny nose, but within days your horse is running a high fever, refuses to eat, and is basically lifeless. Some horse diseases are no joke! They can attack your horse’s immune system and run him into the ground. It’s best to watch your horse carefully for symptoms, especially if you notice he’s a bit off.

Here’s the top five most deadly horse diseases:

1) Equine Herpesvirus: This highly contagious disease can kill young horses and unborn foals. Some common symptoms include nasal discharge, lack of balance, leaning on fences, hind limb weakness, lack of energy, and urine dribbling. There is a preventive vaccine available.

2) Potomac Horse Fever: Particularly seen in warmer months and with pastures that hold water, PHF is another serious disease to watch out for! Horses whom have contracted this deadly condition can develop colic, run a fever, have a lack of appetite, and seem depressed. There are a few different vaccines on the market.

3) Strangles: Abscesses form on the lymphoid tissue in the upper respiratory system. Horses will experience a high fever, nasal discharge, swollen lymph nodes, trouble swallowing, and depression. A vaccine is available to prevent this nasty illness. Your barn should also have a cautionary system in place, as this disease is very contagious.

4) Tetanus: Found in manure and soil, the bacteria responsible for tetanus often infect open wounds. Muscle spasms and stiffness is common, as well as trouble moving and eating, sweating, and respiratory system failure. Keep wounds clean and invest in the vaccine to prevent this potentially deadly disease.

5) Equine Influenza: Also known as the flu, this condition effects the respiratory system. Nasal discharge, dry coughing, a fever, lack of energy, and loss of appetite are symptoms. Preventive measures should be in place for new horses or those traveling. A vaccine is available beforehand.

No one wants to see their horse feeling down or struggling with nasty symptoms. It’s best to monitor your horse everyday and nip anything in the butt before it becomes serious!