Symptoms of Pneumonia in Horses


Horses can have several health conditions that are familiar to humans. They are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections. Pneumonia is a serious condition in horses. According to the Gluck Equine Research Center, pneumonia is the primary cause of death in foals between the ages of 1 and 4 months. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, virus, fungus or a parasitic infection, although viral pneumonia is the most common form in horses.

General Malaise

  • Symptoms of pneumonia may be vague at first. The horse may display signs of general malaise and fatigue.

Loss of Appetite

  • Loss of appetite is a common symptom of most illnesses, including pneumonia. Fever is also a common sign of illness. Loss of appetite normally accompanies a fever.


  • Watery stools often accompany pneumonia and other respiratory ailments. Diarrhea can also account for loss of appetite, fatigue and general malaise.

Nasal Discharge

  • It is common for nasal discharge as well as a cough to accompany pneumonia.

Intolerance to Exercise

  • A horse with pneumonia will display an intolerance to exercise. The horse may even be reluctant to move at all.

Labored Breathing

  • Labored breathing is the most obvious symptom of pneumonia in horses. The nostrils may flare and the horse may show other visible signs of respiratory distress.

Weight Loss

  • Weight loss may also occur in a horse with pneumonia, even though it may not be noticeable initially. A horse that displays any or all of these symptoms needs to be checked by a veterinarian. Pneumonia is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. Treatment usually consists of antibiotics and fluid therapy, as well as medication for pain.

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