A snotty nose is something that I am usually associating with the kids. They seem to go through phases when their noses are always running. Of course our four legged children can also have snotty noses (nasal discharge) but when is it a cause for concern?
I went to a talk last Tuesday at my veterinary equine practice Wright and Morton. It was all about the horse’s respiratory system and problems that can occur. There was a lovely buffet of sandwiches and cake too provided by the sponsor for the evening, Boehringer.
So has your horse ever had a snotty nose and/or a cough. I think all of my horses over the years have had some form of snot or cough at one time or another. My first experience of a snotty nose was with my first pony Monica. When she arrived she was a little plump and developed this thick yellow gloop that dripped in stringy blobs from her nose.
The first thing to do was to try and eliminate as much dust as we could. So turnout in the field and dust free forage in the form of Horsehage were the first changes. Before going down the route of medication such as Ventipulmin, which could have been long term, our vet suggested an inhalation. Now this was nearly 30 years ago so there was nothing fancy about the inhaler. It was made from what I remember as brown paper bag, however my dad thinks it was a canvas bag. I’m sure a good quality brown paper bag would work. We placed some some dry hay at the bottom, then added a sprinkling of something like Albus Oil and then add hot water. The bag was then placed over her nose so she could breathe in the warm vapour. I can’t remember how long we did this for, perhaps a week or two but I can tell you that the snot went and never returned!
A thoroughbred I rescued out of a field also had nasal discharge, very similar to the yellow thick gloop I had experienced before. He was in quite poor condition and probably raced as a 2 year old but didn’t make that grade. I didn’t use the warm air inhaler with him though instead I took that advice of an old guy that had owned horses all his life. He told me to get a pot of Vics Vapour Rub and put a big blob up each nostril. Sure enough the snot drained out and never returned.
My current horse Ralph has never had a yellow gloopy snotty nose but he has had a cough with some colourless phlegm and a small amount of white nasal discharge. It started as the odd cough while in the stable. Then I notice he was coughing in the field. The final straw was when I had to stop riding him one day as he was coughing so much. As I don’t believe in calling the vet straight away I did what I had done with my pony nearly 30 years ago. I went out and bought Horsehage and within a week the cough had gone.
I think I have been very lucky that my experiences of snotty noses and coughs have been nothing sinister and I have been able to sort them with minimal veterinary intervention. Every horse is different and I think we all know what is normal for our own horses. There are some nasty diseases of the respiratory system such as Strangles so if you are worried at all about your horse’s respiratory system or nasal discharge that is abnormal for your horse don’t hesitate to call your vet.
When is it time to call the vet for a snotty nose or cough?
- if your horse is not eating or drinking
- if your horse has a raised temperature
- if your horse is lethargic
- if the symptoms are getting progressively worse despite your own intervention of turnout, dust free hay etc
- if your horse is based on a yard and other horses have similar symptoms
- if your horse has had contact with another horse away from home
Do you have any experiences of nasal discharge or coughs to share?