Here are some common signs & symptoms to watch out for:
Dull coat – A good sign that there is something wrong, either with diet or general health.
Coughs & sneezes – Horses can get colds as well, and there are preparations that you can buy to relieve symptoms, but it is best to consult with your vet. Again, persistent coughing and breathing problems should be brought to the attention of your vet as they may indicate heart problems or other problems within the chest.
Lethargy – Younger horses may become less active during a growth spurt, and older horses may generally be less active due to arthritis and other age-related maladies. Lethargy can also be a sign of stress or depression, caused by boredom, loneliness or recent trauma or upset. Talk to your vet for ways to relieve stress, and maybe rethink your horse’s routine.
Cough – If your horse is lethargic and develops a temperature with a dry cough and possibly a runny nasal discharge he could be suffering from Equine Influenza (the flu). Isolate him immediately, keeping him rested, and contact your vet.
Loss of appetite, weight loss – Loss of appetite is usually one of the first signs of illness in your horse, and weight loss should always be checked as this could be a symptom of internal parasites or other serious illnesses. Loss of appetite can also be associated with Colic:-
Restlessness, pawing at the belly, stretching, lying down more than normal – Possibly also with a temperature and loss of appetite, are all signs of colic (pain in the abdomen), which should be referred immediately to your vet. Usually due to an irregular feeding regime and more common in stabled horses, colic can prove life-threatening.
Colic can also be a symptom of Equine Grass Sickness (EGS), a potentially fatal disease of the nervous system in horses. Early signs can be quite vague, also showing as tremors, difficulty swallowing and weight loss. There are three types of EGS – Acute, Subacute and Chronic – which vary in symptoms and severity. As yet there is no known cause for grass sickness, and no real way of preventing it, other than to minimize stress and changes to diet and grazing.
For more information on this terrible disease, please visit the Equine Grass Sickness Fund website, where you will find plenty of advice, ideas on how to help and an ‘In Memoriam’ section.
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