Cowgirl - Discharge

It can be hard to distinguish between the different types of nasal discharge your horse can have. It can often vary in color, texture, and amount. While sometimes a runny nose is nothing to worry about, other times it can be quite serious. It’s important to learn the differences, so you know whether to get a veterinarian out right away.

Consider the Following

  • What is the color of the discharge?
  • Is it thick or thin?
  • Is there an odor?
  • One or both nostrils?
  • Is your horse lethargic?
  • Does he have a fever?
  • Is he still eating normally?

You’ll want to think about whether any new horses have come in, if he has been to a show lately, and if others at the barn have come down with anything.

Types of Discharge

  • Serous: Watery
  • Purulent: Thick and yellow-greenish
  • Mucoid: Yellow
  • Sanguineous: Bloody
  • Unilateral: One nostril
  • Bilateral: Both nostrils

Potential Reasons for a Runny Nose

Bacterial Infection: Usually thick and yellow snot in both nostrils. Other symptoms include fever, cough, and lethargic behavior.

Viral Respiratory Infection: Thick and yellow-greenish snot found in both sides of the nose. It usually progresses deeper into the lungs if not treated.

Sinus Infection: Thick yellow drainage that might smell badly.

Allergies or Dust Irritation: Bilateral and usually watery/clear.

Progressive Ethmoid Hematomas: Bloody snot found in one nostril

Don’t wait until things get serious! At the first sign of a runny nose, examine your horse’s behavior and check his temperature. It’s essential to look at the type of discharge, so you can explain things to your vet.