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Snotty Nose? Nasal Discharge In Horses Is No Joke

Find out why your horse's nose is running and if it's serious!

January 03, 2018

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.

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