Horses are prey animals, which means that they do their best to hide when they are sick or injured. However, you can still tell if your horse is sick by watching out for abnormal behavior or physical signs. The best way to know if your horse is sick is to know their normal behaviors, tendencies, and vital signs, so that you can more easily spot signs that something is wrong.
If your horse is sick or if you’re worried about your horse, you should contact your veterinarian. They will be able to help you with your specific circumstances.
Here are some warning signs that could mean that your horse is sick.
#1. Not Drinking Enough Or Refusing To Drink
Horses drink anywhere from 3 – 8 gallons of water a day, depending on their size and activity levels. As such, if your horse isn’t drinking enough or is refusing to drink, this is cause for concern. There are many potential causes for a horse not drinking water. Sometimes, your horse won’t drink water simply because it isn’t fresh or they’re unfamiliar with the water source. A horse drinker, like the ones we here at Bar Bar A have can help with this.
Other common potential causes include illness, stress, a dirty water source, other nutritional imbalances, and certain medications. Additionally, common ailments such as dehydration, colic, and metabolic disorders may affect a horse’s water intake. If a horse has not been drinking normally for an extended period of time, it is important to contact a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.
#2. Lack Of Appetite
Horses are grazers, which means that they eat small amounts very often. Feeding time at the stables usually garners quite a bit of excitement, and your horse will love you if you let them graze outside. If your horse has lost interest in food or is abnormally picky, this is an instant red flag.
Check your feed to ensure that it is good, rather than moldy. Ensure that the feed is something that your horse likes. If your horse is still not eating and they are not nervous because of a show or traveling, this is likely a sign that your horse is sick.
If your horse is quidding (chewing food, but it falls out of their mouths in balls), this could be because of dental issues, infection, or other problems. If your horse isn’t finishing their food or is refusing to eat, contact your vet, as it’s highly likely that your horse is sick.
#3. Watch Their Attitude
Different horses have different personalities, but horses as a whole are generally cheerful and alert creatures. If they’re not, something is likely wrong. They could be stressed about strange noises, frustrated with training, or there could be other underlying issues, such as sickness.
A sick horse may be more lethargic and reluctant to move. They may not great you as they normally would. Conversely, another sign that your horse is sick is if they’re restless, pawing and circling and looking at their sides. Horses’ ears are typically moving around as they pay attention to different things, but if your horse’s ears are pushed back, this could be due to pain.
If you suspect abdominal pain or colic, you want to keep your horse up and walking until your vet can get out to you.
#4. Visual Appearance
A healthy horse is one with a shiny coat, bright eyes, and at a healthy weight. They may have a trickle of clear liquid from their nostrils, but no mucus or discharge. They stand evenly on all four legs, unless they are resting with one hoof propped up. The only reason why a horse should be sweaty is because they were just exercised or because it’s really hot outside.
If your horse is sweating and they weren’t exercising and it isn’t hot, it’s probably because your horse is sick. If your horse’s coat is dull, their eyes have lost their luster, they’re unable to keep their eyes open, there is mucus in their nostrils, or their body posture and behavior is abnormal, these are all signs that your horse is sick.
You want to ensure that your horse is inspected at least once a day to ensure that all is well and to catch any signs that something is off.
What To Do If Your Horse Is Sick
These are but 4 of the common signs that your horse is sick. If your horse is sick, it’s important to ensure that they receive veterinary care as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of their symptoms, you may be able to schedule out an appointment in a few days’ time. However, if your horse is showing signs of colic or other serious illness, your vet will come out as soon as possible.
When you call your vet, they will be able to tell you what you should do.
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