Things to know about the common cold in horses 

Common cold in horses - recognition and treatment

For you as a horse owner, the well-being of your animal comes first. The health of your horse as a walking animal is particularly based on healthy and resilient respiratory organs. Just like humans, horses can catch a cold, especially during the wet and cold season. A cold should not be taken lightly, because it can quickly lead to a chronic disease of the respiratory tract. A chronic cold can not only lead to an enormous drop in performance, but can even mean a total loss of use for the horse as a sport and leisure partner. Below you will find useful information about the causes, treatment options and tips for preventing colds in horses.


  • Viruses
  • Bacteria or fungi
  • Poor husbandry
  • Parasites

A cold in horses can have many causes. Often viruses or bacteria are the cause, but it can also be an allergic reaction to fungal spores from the roughage. If the horse is constantly exposed to harmful gases such as ammonia from dirty bedding, this can irritate the respiratory tract and promote an infection. Often it is a combination of several causes that are mutually dependent. Make sure to feed low-dust, high-quality hay and straw. In addition, the stable should have a sufficient supply of fresh air, but without a strong draught. If your horse already has a weakened immune system due to a previous illness, it is particularly susceptible to a cold and you should keep a close eye on it.

How can you recognise a cold?
 There are many different symptoms that can be recognised by daily observation of the horses. The first signs of a cold can be a dull and listless appearance with tired eyes. Often horses are noticed for reduced appetite. In the advanced stages, there may be sudden fever, coughing and shortness of breath, plus increased nasal discharge or swelling of the lymph nodes on the head.

Before treatment is given, a fever should be taken as a precaution (normal temperature 37.5 - 38.5 °C) and the mucous membranes should be checked for redness.

The results of your own examination should be reported directly to the veterinarian.

To relieve the symptoms, it is recommended to use expectorants such as Derbymed Bronchopulmin®: with essential oils such as eucalyptus, fennel and thyme oil, Derbymed Bronchopulmin® has an anti-inflammatory and expectorant effect. In case of infections with fever, the immune system is strengthened again by highly available vitamin C. This supports the self-healing process of the respiratory tract and prevents the development of a chronic cold.

In order to prevent a cold, the housing conditions should be optimised. Regardless of the type of housing (open stable, box, etc.), optimised means plenty of space, and every horse needs enough light and fresh air. Regular exercise and contact with conspecifics in combination with correct feeding make a big contribution to the horses' well-being.



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