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All horse diseases mentioned on this page and many more can be detected by means of a horse hair analysis. In many cases, a disease can be detected at an early stage.

A hair analysis is even able to indicate “predispositions”. A horse does not have to be currently suffering from a lung hemorrhage, which an analysis of the horse hair would bring to light. It is quite possible to detect whether a horse has the appropriate “genes” by means of an analysis.

Respiratory problems



Ear infection

Gastric ulcers

Heart disease

Knee problems

Cushing’s Syndrom (ECS)

Do you have a hunch about what disease your horse might have, but need additional reassurance? In such a case, contact the animal therapist directly at +49 171 578 3744.

Equine Asthma

This disease is a generic term for various non-infectious diseases of the deep airways such as IAD (Inflammatory Airway Disease) and RAO (Recurrent Airway Obstruction). Particularly when horses are stabled, about one in two horses has respiratory problems. This is due to dust and poor ventilation. Bad air or polluted air puts a strain on the lungs.

This disease is primarily manifested by a reduced performance of the horse. Especially when the horse needs a lot of oxygen for the required performance, this can be seen. Racehorses slow down after the first half mile. Jumping horses, for example, drop poles in the last third of the course. If a horse is not permanently challenged, as is the case with leisure horses, for example, this disease often goes undetected.

A large proportion of horses with the disease, almost 40%, do not even show the symptom “cough”. However, a cough would be very important for the rehabilitation of the horse, because it would allow mucus in the respiratory tract to be coughed up. As a result, cortisone is injected into the horse’s joints when performance decreases, but this does not contribute to recovery.

RAO (Recurrent Airway Obstruction)

This disease is often referred to as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). The causes of this disease are not fully understood yet. However, scientists agree that several factors can be considered as triggers. Inhalation of polluted air is a major factor. Here, stable dust, mites, fungi, previous viral infections and, in rare cases, pollen allergies should be mentioned.

EIPH (Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrage) / Lung bleeding

In this case, we speak of load-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. The cause is overloading of the organ, for example in race and competition horses. Pulmonary hemorrhage is triggered by rapid and deep breathing when mastering the course or on the racetrack. Genetic disposition is another important cause, i.e., this disease can be inherited. 

An obvious symptom of pulmonary hemorrhage is nosebleed. Unfortunately, this symptom only occurs in a maximum of 10% of all affected horses. Other symptoms include decreased performance and difficult breathing. Similarly, frequent swallowing during and after exercise is typical signs of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.

EIPH is diagnosed clinically by tracheobronchoscopy. A greater or lesser degree of blood flow from both main bronchi is seen. Due to the fact that many false negative findings are issued on tracheobronchoscopy, further clinical procedures are indicated. These medical methods are associated with high physical and psychological stress for the horse. An attractive alternative to tracheobronchoscopy is equine hair analysis.

Due to genetic disposition, these characteristics are stored in the horse’s hair. This means it can be determined at a young age whether a horse is genetically predisposed with regard to pulmonary hemorrhage. However, this does not manifest that a predisposed horse will actually be affected during its lifetime. As already explained, the stresses to which the horse is exposed are of importance, among other things.

Hoof joint inflammation

Injuries such as inflammation from nail kicks are usually quickly recognized. Normally, the horse is severely lame. Not so obvious, on the other hand, are chronic inflammations due to overloading or malpositions. Such anomalies result in bone growths, which have a negative effect on the mobility of the joint.

The risk of overlooking an inflammation of the hoof joint (coffin bone, navicular bone and coronet bone) is very high, because many lamenesses develop insidiously. Especially hoof joint inflammations affect both front or hind legs. The same applies to inflammations of the hoof rolls. In these cases it is very difficult to recognize a lameness. If a horse has pain in one leg, it will lean on the healthy leg. However, if both legs are affected, this is not possible.

Joint chip

Another term for joint chip is bone splinter (in the joint). The technical term for this is OCD (Osteochondrosis Dissecans). This is a bone disease, so it is not caused by trauma, but by a metabolic disorder. 

The cartilage in the joint area is developed up to about 1.5 years. Cartilage is not supplied with blood. It is nourished only by diffusion from nutrients that are essentially in the synovial fluid. In some cases, the nutrient situation in a young horse is not sufficient. In these cases, developmental disorders occur. The result is detachment of cartilage scales on the joint surface.

As a result, the horse suffers pain and lameness may occur. Most often, these chips occur in the hock joint, fetlock joint, hoof joint or stifle joint. In rare cases, the cervical joint may also be affected. The disease develops insidiously. In some cases, it is an incidental finding.

The following symptoms can be a first indication of a joint chip: lameness, swelling at the joint, filling of the joint, stiffness, joint inflammation, thickened joints and pain.

Malignant Lymphoma

First, a distinction needs to be made between malignant (malignant) and benign (benign) tumors. Malignant lymphoma is one of the five most common tumors in horses. The ability of horses to suffer is extreme, so the disease is often not detected until advanced stages.

Lymphoma patients often have moderate or variable appetites. In addition, a horse may be observed to be dull and exhausted. Often, an attempt is made to explain the cause of the unusual behavior by measuring the temperature. However, this is not reliably successful; the temperature in horses regularly fluctuates between 38.5° and 39°C. Another uncertain symptom is water retention on the abdomen and weight loss.

Otitis media

Otitis media is an inflammation of the middle ear. This can spread to the air sac. The primary cause is a rupture of the eardrum. Microorganisms may also be involved (rather rare). Typical symptoms, especially when the horse is examined, are ear shaking and rubbing with paws or on the ground. Occasionally, coughing can be detected.

In some cases, slow eating, a lowered head, mild nasal discharge, head shaking, or alternating elevated temperature may be noted.

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome

Typical for this disease are long feeding breaks, too much grain or stress in husbandry or training. The result is irritation of the mucous membrane in the stomach. In the worst case, inflammation is caused by gastric acid, leading to a gastric ulcer. In many cases, the esophagus is also affected. According to various studies, almost half of the recreational horses are afflicted with such a disease.

The symptoms are very different. This starts with signs such as behavioral abnormalities like displeasure when girting, which is interpreted as unwillingness or bitchiness. It is often underestimated that even short-term stress is sufficient to trigger gastric ulcers. In this regard, a ride in the hanger or an argument in the herd could be mentioned.

When observing the horse, you might notice if the horse looks at its stomach more often. Diarrhea, eating with less appetite, or if food is left lying around could also be symptoms. It should be remembered that colic symptoms can also indicate stomach ulcers. Finally, biting, reluctance to perform, biting, or threatening to retort are possible signs.

Heart problems

First of all, it should be mentioned that the horse heart can compensate for many heart problems for a long time. There may be an increase in the heartbeat or the amount of blood carried per heartbeat without any loss of performance. Also, a decrease in blood pressure or a thickening of the muscular heart wall is usually not noticeable by a horse.

It is only in advanced disease that performance losses are observed in the horse. The diseased heart does not reach its resting state after a load as quickly as a healthy one. Regularly, heart sounds and heart rhythm are altered. In the later stages, edema (fluid accumulation) forms in the area of the lower chest or abdomen, sometimes even in the lungs.

A bluish discoloration of mucous membranes of the horse are a clear sign of oxygen deficiency in the blood. The most common causes of heart failure are diseases of the heart valves, the heart muscle and the pericardium. As a rule, such heart defects are accompanied by cardiac arrhythmias. Permanent overload often has negative effects on the heart, as do insufficient up and down phases.

Knee joint problems

The most complicated joint of an organism is the knee joint. There are many cavities between the upper and lower leg, which are difficult to see through even using X-ray technology. If a horse has problems and is lame, the search for the cause can be compared to detective work. Possible causes are OCD, cartilage damage, injuries to the various ligaments (external, internal and cruciate ligaments, patellar ligaments), meniscus problems, arthrosis and much more.

By means of a hair analysis for horses, initial indications can already be provided as to where the causes lie. This allows clinical examination methods such as X-ray, ultrasound, scintigraphy or arthroscopy to be used in a targeted manner. If this first indication is missing, all the above-mentioned apparative examination methods may have to be used. This is not only cost-intensive, but also an enormous physical and psychological burden for the horse.

Pituitary adenoma

Cushing’s syndrome (Equine Cushing Syndrome) is also called pituitary adenoma. In the meantime, the abbreviation PPID (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction) has become more common, because it describes the cause of the disease more accurately. PPID is the most common hormonal disorder in older horses.

Generally, the disease occurs in about 20% of all animals over 15 years of age. Surprisingly, ponies and donkeys are much more commonly affected. Affected horses often present with laminitis. Another obvious symptom is abnormal shedding or hair growth (hirsutism). In addition, there is muscle atrophy (pasture belly, loss of “topline”) and abnormal fat distribution (especially supraorbital). 

The external symptoms are long, partially curled hair and delayed coat change as well as a conspicuous muscle loss, which may be concealed by a so-called “pasture belly”. Psychologically, lethargy is noticeable. The horse also has a higher susceptibility to disease. Polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyuria (frequent urination) are further symptoms of PPID.