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Common horse diseases

On this page you’ll find a list of common horse diseases, which are shortly presented below. All of these diseases can be detected by hair analysis. 

Your horse seems sick, but you don’t know what’s wrong? I can help you. A horse hair analysis will reveal if any of the above diseases are present. Act now and order your analysis here.


Many forms of illness in the gastrointestinal tract are called colic. Colic indicates a malfunction of the digestive tract, it is not so much the disease itself. The causes can be very different. Immediate notification of the veterinarian is advised. Common signs of colic include pawing forelegs, putting away hind legs, and sweating. In some cases, the horse will look down at its belly and wag its tail conspicuously. Colic can be fatal.


This disease is also known as fetlock eczema. It is a painful, inflammatory skin disease in the pasterns of horses. Typical signs are a thin skin at the affected area. As a result, bacteria can penetrate the horse’s skin more easily and multiply there. Fetlock eczema is accompanied by a typical scabby, but sometimes oozing and purulent appearance.

The healing of fetlock eczema is often very long and tedious. Wetness, pollution and chemicals as well as straining by means of brushes are possible causes. Finally, there are three manifestations: Dry mallenders, wet mallenders and warty mallenders.


Myopathy is a disease of the skeletal muscles. The causes of this muscle inflammation can be different. On the one hand, the disease can be caused by overexertion, but on the other hand, it can also be caused by a lack of exercise. In this respect, this disease is also known as “holiday disease”. Finally, there are a number of other synonyms: Myositis, Rhabdomyolysis, Tying Up or Lumbago. As a result, there is a breakdown of muscle tissue (necrosis).

Due to a disease of the back muscles, movement disorders of the horse’s hindquarters occur. In extreme cases, this can lead to paralysis of the hindquarters. In this case, sweating can often be observed in the horse. In acute cases, the horse should be kept absolutely motionless until the veterinarian arrives.


Right away, this disease can be avoided by regular care of the hooves. Muddy ground and cold, wet autumn weather favor rotting in the frog of the hoof. If a hoof smells unpleasant (rotten), it’s often already too late. Bacteria have accumulated in the hoof and attacked the frog. Thrush is a risk to the entire hoof mechanism, since the frog acts as a kind of shock absorber in the hoof.

Nutrition plays a role in this condition. In addition, a horse may have a congenital predisposition, which promotes thrush. Inadequate nutrition leads to poorer blood flow to the hoof horn, preventing the hoof corium from producing high-quality horn. Treatment is done by keeping mire and manure away from the infested hoof. The affected area is excised by the farrier. Medication and disinfection support healing.


Horses with a weak immune system are often affected by a cough. The classic symptoms are coughing, heavy breathing and light nasal discharge. A “cough” can also hide asthma or fever. In individual cases, a cough is not curable and the horse does not need to be spared in the future. In order to be able to estimate the endurance of the horse correctly, it is important to pay attention to its daily form.

As a precaution, it should be clarified whether a febrile infection is present or whether the cause is to be sought in an increased dust or particle load. Vital substances or herbs can be administered to support the immune system. This is basically a good dietary supplement.


This disease is an inflammation of the hoof corium. Laminitis is one of the most painful diseases in horses. After colic, these inflammations are the second most common cause of horse death, so this is an acute emergency. Incorrect feeding, metabolic disorders and poisoning are often the causes. Obesity and overuse are also considered as possible triggers. For a reliable diagnosis and therapy, a veterinarian should be called immediately.

Due to the inflammation, the tissue swells and the coffin bone lowers towards the sole. In extreme cases, this can lead to loss of the horn capsule. Slow, tentative walking with short strides could be an alarm sign for laminitis. The horse is tender on the sole, and the coronet band is swollen and warm. A pulsation can also be felt on the collarbone.


Inflammation, damage to muscles, strains, sprains, muscle tears, tendon ruptures to neurological causes can cause lameness in a horse – in principle, almost anything is possible. Overexertion or a knock resulting in swelling are more harmless cases. Cooling of the injured area should be used to bridge the time until the veterinarian arrives.

It goes without saying that a horse should be spared as soon as lameness occurs. Very often lameness occurs due to a disease of the hooves. However, tendons or pasterns can also play a role.


Equine influenza is one of the most common infectious diseases of the respiratory tract in horses. Not only the upper, but also the lower respiratory tract is affected in this viral infection. The easy route of transmission (coughing, sneezing) allows rapid spread when several horses are housed in a stable. Untreated influenza usually leads to pneumonia or myocarditis. It usually begins with a lack of appetite and apathy.

Subsequently, there is increased discharge from the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose, coughing and fever. Because of the high risk of infection, it is recommended that the horse be housed individually and kept away from other horses. In addition to chemical medications, biological veterinary medications may also be prescribed as therapy.


The pathogen Clostridium tetani is produced by a toxin and leads to tetanus. In this respect, this is a case of poisoning and not an infection in the true sense of the word. The pathogen can be found almost everywhere. If an injury occurs in a horse, it is almost inevitably contaminated with tetanus spores.

The ports of entry can be so small that they can be found with difficulty, if at all. The spores can easily spread through the bloodstream and muscle stiffness is the result. The horse can neither chew nor drink properly because the jaw muscles are cramped. In addition, there is usually a fever. If the horse is not treated, death occurs within a few days (up to ten days) after the first symptoms appear.

Nasal discharge

If a horse suffers from nasal discharge, i.e. fluids leak out through the nostrils, this is an alarm signal. The causes can be many. A one-sided nasal discharge can mean a serious disease of the air sac or sinuses. But dental problems, inflammations, tumors, foreign bodies and pus accumulation can also be the cause of the mucus discharge. In any case, a veterinarian should be contacted.