Anything, infectious or not, that aggravates them or causes inflammation can lead to production of additional mucus or fluid and the telltale runny nose. Some are fairly benign, while others require calling a veterinarian to resolve the issue and protect nearby horses.
Kazan says adult horses with resting heart rates in the 50s or above need immediate veterinary attention. Horses with a bilateral watery or mucoid discharge could be reacting to environmental irritants (such as dust) or suffering from equine asthma or allergies.
Kazan says horses with asthma still seem fairly healthy unless they are severely affected, despite the presence of discharge. They should also recommend the owner monitor the horse for a fever or other signs of illness for a few days.
Horses with thick, yellow bilateral discharge and other signs of illness might be suffering from a viral or bacterial infection. A viral infection often starts with a serous discharge that quickly changes to a thicker yellow or yellow-green.
Another sign that a horse could have an infection, whether mild or severe: He might be hanging out toward the back of his stall and doesn’t want to interact with people, says Kazan. Among the most common bacterial causes of nasal discharge are Streptococcus equip subs.
Often horses with strangles don’t develop nasal discharge until later in the disease process, once internal abscesses rupture. Then, a purulent discharge can drain from the guttural pouches (more on these coming up) into the nasal passages and out bilaterally through the nose, says Las cola.
Unless the horse just finished strenuous exercise resulting in exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIP, or “bleeding”), a fungal or bacterial infection within the guttural pouches could be to blame. The guttural pouches are sacs of air located just beneath each ear that help the horse cool the various cranial nerves and the internal carotid artery, which carries blood to the brain, and the maxillary carotid artery, which supplies blood to the rest of the head.
And if an owner misses early signs of bloody discharge, the results are devastating; a horse gushing blood can bleed out in minutes. Additional signs of a fungal infection can include cranial nerve abnormalities, such as the horse holding or swinging his head oddly to one side due to loss of innervation, swallowing issues, and signs of Corner’s syndrome (e.g., drooping eyelids, sunken eyes, a raised or swollen third eyelid, constricted pupils, abnormal sweating on the affected side).
Other causes of unilateral bloody nasal discharge include sinus cysts or foreign bodies (such as a stick) lodged in a nostril. This benign fragile vascular mass (made up of blood vessels) can grow into the nasal passages or the paranasal sinuses from the ethmoid, which is a normal vascular structure at the top of the paranasal sinuses.
“Owners might also notice a noise that’s associated with it if it’s big enough that air flow is obstructed,” says Las cola. Treatment usually involves injecting the chemical formalin, which reduces the size of the lesion, or surgical removal, but recurrence is common.
Kazan says profound nasal discharge like this could result from an esophageal obstruction, also called choke. Rarely, in severe comics horse owners might see a foamy discharge with chunks of food as reflux.
The cause of your horse’s nasal discharge can range from something as simple as a little dust irritation to as serious as a life-threatening pneumonia. Here, I’ll give you the tools you need to determine what to do when you find your horse with a nasal discharge.
Next, I’ll explain how to evaluate your horse’s discharge by giving you five questions to answer about its nature. I’ll describe what each answer likely means about your horse’s condition and recommend an action step.
For each scenario, I’ll give you the most likely cause of the discharge, whether it’s an emergency, and a recommended action plan. Along the way, I’ll tell you about a different reason for nasal discharge that looks alarming but is usually easily resolved.
Mucous in your horse’s nose is composed of water, salt, and a group of proteins called ruins that give it its sticky, stretchy character. Mucous acts as a blanket that protects the sensitive tissues of your horse’s nasal passages and prevents them from drying out.
Because mucous is sticky and thick, it also acts a bit like flypaper, trapping bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances to prevent them from moving farther down into your horse’s respiratory tract. When your horse has a cold or allergy that affects his respiratory tract, his tissues produce excessive mucous so it can better perform its important job of flushing out unwanted invaders.
If something causes inflammation, a type of white blood cells called neutrophils rush to the area. And if there’s an actual infection, neutrophils gobble up bacteria or viruses, then release enzymes to destroy them.
(Guttural pouches are a pair of blind sacs at the back of the nasal passages.) If a one-sided nasal discharge is persistent, your vet will recommend radiographs of your horse’s skull and/or an endoscopic exam to help diagnose an underlying cause.
Your vet will then recommend appropriate treatment based on the results of laboratory tests. Not hot: If your horse’s temperature is normal, his nasal discharge may be due to allergies or equine asthma.
As a rule of thumb, a thin, watery discharge is less concerning than a thick and gooey one. Thick: Mucous becomes thicker over time due to the foreign material and debris that has accumulated.
Just like humans, horses can get bloody noses simply due to a disruption of a small blood vessel in a nasal passage. Action step: By itself, a thick, discolored nasal discharge doesn’t mean your horse needs antibiotics.
If your horse’s nasal discharge has a rotten smell, your vet will most likely recommend an exam. He must have pneumonia, because he’s coughing like crazy and has thick disgusting discharge coming from both nostrils.
The good news is that the horse really isn’t dying, and he probably doesn’t have pneumonia. It involves a horse’s esophagus (between his mouth and stomach) not his trachea (the passage to his lungs).
Although the horse’s behavior may appear dramatic, he isn’t in any imminent danger of collapse or death. In fact, the majority of equine chokes resolve spontaneously, before we can even make it to your barn.
If your horse has a copious nasal discharge that’s bubbly and slimy, and contains food particles, chances are, he’s choking. Wait 10 or 15 minutes before you call your vet, and gently massage the esophagus, which runs along the groove on the left side of his neck.
The nasal discharge isn’t likely to resolve on its own, and additional diagnostics will be recommended. Scenario #2: Your horse has a two-sided nasal discharge that’s thin and clear, and he has a fever of 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
He or she may make suggestions for managing your horse’s environment to minimize respiratory irritants and can help you decide how long to “ride it out” in case it is a virus. He or she may also suggest examining your horse and running additional diagnostic tests to try to differentiate between a virus and an allergy.
If the bloody discharge is persistent or happens repeatedly, call your vet to schedule an exam during regular hours. It’s been there for about a week, and today he has a temperature of 103 degrees F. Most likely cause: A viral or bacterial infection.
The vivarium is the moist, naked surface around the nostrils of the nose in most mammals. “We want to know what mammals can do with specialized nose tips,” Land zoologist Ronald Kroger explains.
Previously, he researched animal vision, but interestingly enough, he got curious about riparian when his dog touched him with its cold nose, which made him wonder about its unusual temperature. Sunburn over a horse's back can mean you'll have to wait to ride until the burn heals.
Most commonly, horses like grays or pintos with white or pink noses will become sunburned. I once badly burned my horse's nose by applying a herbal oil made with St. John's Wort flowers.
Alike clover may cause photosensitivity as well as liver failure, gastric and neurological disorders. Dew Poisoning is the name given to the sunburn that occurs on the horse's nose and lower legs as is grazes through patches of wet alike clover.
It's important to provide a shady place such as a line of trees or run-in shelter. Some people choose to keep their horses stabled during the day and turned out to pasture at night.
Because your horse will have it's head down to graze, the product will wipe off quickly so it will need to be reapplied frequently. Inexpensive zinc oxide paste is useful as both a sunblock and to help heal any previously irritated skin.
A full mask such as the Absorbing Fly Shield covers your horse from the top of its nose to its ear tips. Because these sheets are made with mesh, however, they shouldn't be considered total protection, as some sun rays will get through.
Kate graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in biology. Nosebleeds in horses can be extremely frightening for owners, but in the vast majority of cases, it is not caused by a serious condition.
Itch scratching or nose-rubbing Foreign object(s) in the nasal passage Head trauma Guttural pouch mitosis Internal respiratory polyps Sinusitis Respiratory tumors Internal lung bleeding Equine respiratory systems are designed to take in massive amounts of oxygen at the nostrils.
A fall or sudden impact on the head of the horse can cause bleeding from the nose. If the horse seems confused, has an unsteady gate, or unequal pupil size, then this can be a sign of a more serious condition.
This condition is serious in nature and is often marked by constant and sometimes heavy bleeding from both nostrils. Internal respiratory polyps or progressive ethmoid hematomas are soft tissue tumors that when punctured, cause significant blood flow.
This condition can cause bleeding from the nose of the horse or, more often, a fluid discharge from only one nostril. If you are at all concerned that your horse could be suffering from a serious condition, a qualified veterinarian should be contacted as soon as practical.
After a fall, a nosebleed can signify damage to the infra orbital foramen, nasal passages, or even the cranium areas. There are times when owners should quickly seek the attention of a veterinarian to determine if the situation is problematic, such as in instances of acute trauma or bleeding that continues for more than 15 minutes.
A good rule is to contact a qualified veterinarian if there is very heavy flow, if the blood is running from both nostrils, or if there is a significant injury to the nasal passage. Recurring nosebleeds that seem to have no discernible source should also be assessed by a veterinarian to determine the cause of the issue.
It is advised to place a cold compress or an ice pack on the region below the eyes. Remember, horses have a significantly higher volume of blood than humans, so if nosebleeds present themselves even in seemingly voluminous amounts, the owner should not panic but should still contact a veterinarian.
In the meantime, apply cold towels or ice packs underneath the eyes as advised to slow the flow until professional attention is given. Veterinarians have turned to technological advancements like endoscopes for equines to get an actual visual of what is causing nosebleeds in horses.
With this fiber optic method, they are able to locate the source of the bleed and determine its effects. This method is effective especially with skittish horses that cannot handle the tube being passed through their noses.
In the case of surgery, medicines may also be administered to prevent infection and stable confinement may be advised. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. I think the most likely reason for a horse to get a nosebleed would be rubbing against a fence or post to ward off pesky flies.
But so is a warm nose, especially after snoozing, said Anna Baling, a researcher who studies animal behavior at Eötvös Land University in Budapest, Hungary. One idea is that the dog's cold nose could help the furry beast regulate its body temperature.
But the nose tip is so small, it's likely unable to meaningfully contribute to a dog's overall thermal regulation, Baling said. To investigate further, an international team of scientists measured the temperature of many animals' noses, including a horse, dog and moose.
By the time Baling joined the project, the team had already learned that the nose tips, or vivariums, of dogs and carnivorous animals are usually cooler than those of herbivores. In the second, brain-centric investigation, scientists presented a box containing warm water and an insulating door to 13 pet dogs trained to lie still in a functional MRI scanner.
The dogs' brains had a higher response when the insulating door was open, revealing the warmer surface, as compared with the neutral one. This side of the brain interests scientists because it tends to process responses to food, which in turn has been linked to predatory activity in many vertebrates, Baling said.
If your horse has a stall, but is turned out for part of the day, provide turnout during the cooler hours. Remember, the summer heat can also take a toll on the quality of your pasture.
You might need to provide additional feed as the grass becomes sparse to maintain proper body condition and energy. If your horse lives outdoors or if he must be outside during the day, provide relief from the sun.
Fans are a great way to help keep the air moving in the barn, but use them wisely. Provide fresh, cool water and an electrolyte source.
A bucket hanging on a pasture fence will get warm and the water will no longer be appealing. If you are providing clean, cool water and your horse doesn’t seem to be drinking, then encourage it by providing a salt block, or even by misting hay with salt water.
If your horse is sweating a great deal, water laced with electrolytes can help keep its body in balance. Don’t think that because your horse has been working intensely at 1:00 p.m. every day that it can take the heat when the temperature tops 90 °F.
This is especially important when the humidity is high, contributing to the poor quality of the air your horse is breathing. Within the parameters of keeping him cool, try to stay as close as possible to his normal schedule.
Consider using a fly sheet to help protect white or gray horses from sunburn. Even those with white socks and blazes, pink noses, or hairless patches from scarring can be susceptible.
Clipping is important, especially for those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (Paid, or Cushing’s disease). Be careful not to clip the hair too close, however, as it provides some protection from damaging rays.
You should know your horse’s normal temperature, heart, and respiratory rates. To find the heart rate of a horse, simply find a pulse and count the beats for 15 seconds, then multiply that number by four, which will give the beats per minute.
An elevated heart rate that does not return to normal in a reasonable period of time; Excessive sweating or lack of sweating; Temperature that persists above 103 °F; Depression and/or lethargy; and Signs of dehydration: dry mucous membranes, poor capillary refill, and poor skin Turner. If you hang around a stable for any length of time, you’ll notice that horse people have a language all their own.
Nature made horses to be virtual running machines that can reach speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour. The equine body is an impeccably designed combination of muscle and bone in an elegant and graceful package.
Figure 1: The parts of the horse work together to build a virtual running machine. Figure 2: Knowing the parts of the hoof is essential in caring for horses.
About the Book Author Audrey Pa via is the former editor of Horse Illustrated magazine and an award-winning writer of numerous articles on equine subjects. Janice Posnikoff, DVD, is a highly respected equine veterinarian with over 20 years experience.
She is a graduate of the Western College of Veterinarian Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. The truth of the matter is that a wet nose is common amongst most animals found in both the wild and in our homes.
Understanding the biology behind why a cat’s nose is wet can be key for learning why these animals need these body parts to be moist in the first place. Many mammals have what is called the “vivarium”, which is the skin surrounding the openings of the nostrils.
The moisture that is created by an animal’s nose is primarily through sweat glands located on the vivarium. In addition, sweating allows the body to remove excess heat through evaporation.
Unlike humans, cats do not have the ability to sweat all over their bodies. When experiencing high levels of heat, they need to find different strategies to keep cool.
A wet nose creates evaporation, thus aiding in the regulation of body temperature. This vast amount allows people to decide what they want to eat based on their taste.
When comparing the taste receptors between a cat and a human, the differences are stark. A cat relies on their sense of smell to choose whether they want to eat what is in front of them.
This is largely due to the fact that they only have 470 taste buds, 12 times fewer than that of a human. Predators generally rely upon their eyesight or sense of smell to stimulate their appetite.
Cats, though lacking in taste receptors, use the smell of nearby food to become hungry. During the summer months, your cat’s nose might be cold or wet due to the weather.
With warmer temperatures, the air that is exhaled through the nose of your pet adds moisture that builds up on both the inside and outside regions. According to Vet Street, an adult cat will spend anywhere from 15 to 50 percent of their time awake licking their fur.
A cat that spends 50 percent of its time awake cleaning will undoubtedly get their nose wet. Saliva is quick to dry but does add a layer of moisture on top of a feline’s leathery nose.
In fact, many do not know that a nose that is wet, running or dripping can be a sign of an upper respiratory infection. Keeping an eye on your cat’s nose, even when you think it may be properly moistened, is a wise decision.
This theory is somewhat out of the ordinary and is not often thought of when considering the reasons as to why cats’ noses are wet. Red flags should be waved when your cat goes from having a wet, cold nose to one that is dry.
Cats that are experiencing illnesses such as an upper respiratory infection are likely to have a nasal discharge or even a dripping nose. Typically, if a cat has a nose that is both wet and cold, it means that they are not fighting any sort of infection.
If you notice that your cat’s nose is dry it might be due to a variety of reasons. Animal Wised explains that these include dehydration and a sudden onset of an illness.
The slits located on the underside of the animal’s nose aid in their sense of smell. The front section of the nostril is designed for air to easily be breathed in.
It turns out that the pattern on every cat’s nose is different, just like snowflakes or human fingerprints. The bumps and ridges viewed on the vivarium are unique solely to each individual.
It can be due to the excessive cleaning required daily, environmental changes, or perhaps even because they dunked their head in the water bowl. No matter the reason, it is important to keep an eye on how wet your cat’s nose is.
Overall, a cat’s nose is a unique fingerprint designed to aid in body temperature regulation and to tell them that they are hungry.