What Is A High Temperature For A Horse? (Perfect answer)

The average is 100°F. A slight fever is two or three degrees higher than your horse’s normal temperature. A high fever is three or more degrees higher than your horse’s normal temperature. If your horse’s temperature is above 106°F this is an extremely high fever.

Normal horse temperature

  • The normal rectal temperature of a horse is 99.5 to 101.5°F (37.5 to 38.6ºC). Foals less than 1 month of age have a normal temperature of 100.0 to 102.0°F (37.7 to 38.8ºC).

What is a dangerous temperature for a horse?

Extremely high fevers— above 106 degrees —or any fever that goes on for too long can eventually take a physiological toll on a horse. The body uses calories and water to maintain the higher temperature, which over time can lead to weight loss and dehydration.

What is normal temperature for a horse?

An adult horse at rest should have a body temperature of 99 – 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above that level can indicate an active infection. The normal temperature range for a foal is 99.5 – 102.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do I get my horse’s temperature down?

If medications alone are not enough to reduce your horse’s fever, your veterinarian might suggest alternate methods of cooling him down. “Often we try to cool the body in some other way, by using fans or cold hosing, to help increase evaporation over the entire body,” says Nolen-Walston.

How do you tell if a horse is running a fever?

A high fever is one that is elevated by three degrees or more. A horse with a high fever may also breathe hard, have a rapid pulse, and be sweating or shivering. It’s always best to call a veterinarian when a horse has a high fever.

Is 104 a high fever for a horse?

“What’s considered a high fever – yes, you get to 104, 105 is a high fever – but the clinical significance of it really depends on the underlying cause of the fever,” Dreyfuss said. Part of routine care is establishing a normal temperature for an individual horse, Dreyfuss recommended.

Do horses run a fever with colic?

Along with the clinical signs of pawing, rolling and not wanting to eat, horses with colic will often times have an elevated heart rate due to abdominal pain. Horses suffering from colic rarely have a fever. So if your horse does have a fever (anything over 101.5 F. ) the colic is probably secondary to something else.

Can I use a human thermometer on my horse?

Any thermometer used for people can be used for a horse, but it’s helpful to have one specifically designed to be used for livestock, because they come equipped with a string to attach to the horse’s tail. This prevents the thermometer from dropping onto the ground, or from disappearing into the horse’s rectum!

How can you tell if a horse has a temperature without a thermometer?

To estimate your horse’s body temperature without use of a thermometer, use your finger to assess the temperature of the mucous membrane inside the lips, at the corner of the mouth. Compare your estimated reading with a thermometer reading twice on 10 different horses.

How do you check a horse’s temperature?


  1. Stand to the near side (left hand side of the horse), close to the horse to avoid being kicked.
  2. Lubricate the end of the thermometer with soapy water.
  3. If using a mercury thermometer gently shake the mercury down to the bottom of the tube.
  4. Lift the tail and gently insert the thermometer into the horse’s rectum.

When to worry about fever in horses

When you have reason to believe your horse is not feeling well, one of the first things you should do is take his temperature. An high body temperature, which is generally referred to as a “fever,” can be an early symptom of a viral or bacterial illness, depending on the cause. Fever in horses is a serious condition that requires immediate attention. On a hot day, a horse may naturally run “hotter,” but if he has a high fever and doesn’t appear to be himself, it may be time to take him to the vet for an examination.

Despite the fact that some horses are naturally hotter than others, individuals tend to be quite constant from day to day.

To keep track of your child’s usual temperature readings, make it a practice to take his temperature once or twice a month, if you haven’t already.

If he’s still warm, it’s probable that he’s been exercising recently, has been over-blanked, or is just standing in a sunny place.

  • If your horse is withdrawn, is rejecting feed, or otherwise appears sick, however, allow a short period of time to pass before taking his temperature once more.
  • To understand more about the many forms of NSAIDs, please visit this page.
  • Is it possible that the horse is coughing?
  • Is he suffering from diarrhea?
  • If the temperature is mild, there may not be any need for treatment; in fact, reducing a fever that is part of the immune system’s reaction to a challenge may actually make a little disease last longer.
  • The presence of a high temperature may indicate the presence of a dangerous illness, such as Potomac horse fever or endotoxemia, and prompt treatment may be essential for life.
  • A fever so high might cause irreversible damage to vital tissues and organs on its own.

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Running Hot: What An Elevated Equine Temperature Can Mean

A horse’s “normal” body temperature should be between 99 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit, but there are times when his body temperature will rise without him being unwell, so keep an eye out for this. It is possible that he will “run hotter” on hot days or after physical activity, such as racing around in his field or being requested to work by his handler. Horses will also have higher temperatures in the evening than they will in the morning, and mares in various phases of estrus may have temperatures that are greater than their regular temperatures.

  • A fever shows that the horse’s body is attempting to resist infections, but the exact mechanism by which the fever does this is unknown.
  • If he has just been vaccinated, the fever may also be the consequence of his body attempting to build up its immunity to the vaccine.
  • Medications can, on the other hand, be given to a horse that is uncomfortable and is not eating or drinking to make him more comfortable.
  • In general, the longer a horse goes without eating or drinking, the greater the likelihood that he may develop a secondary condition.
  • A high fever is defined as one that is three degrees or more over normal.
  • When a horse has a high fever, it is always preferable to consult with a veterinarian.
  • An other possible cause of fever is endotoxemia.
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Fever in Horses

“Fever” is described as a body temperature that is higher than usual, which is induced by something that causes the body’s set point for normal temperature to rise. According to the horse’s breed, “normal” temperature can range from around 98 to 101 degrees, with 100.5 being an average temperature for the species. A newborn foal’s body temperature is greater than that of an adult horse (up to 102). Every horse owner should take their horse’s temperature on a regular basis for a few days to obtain an idea of what their horse’s typical temperature is.

  1. Getting your horse used to having his temperature taken is a good idea so that it won’t be a problem when you have to take his temperature in an emergency.
  2. BAFX Products has been in business since 1998.
  3. The temperature set point is determined by the hypothalamus, which is located near the base of the brain.
  4. Some horses’ bodies simply get hotter in different settings, but their brain’s set temperature remains the same.
  5. Exercise, high heat and humidity, and anhidrosis (a condition in certain horses that interferes with their capacity to sweat, resulting in their being unable to cool themselves) are all potential causes of hyperthermia.
  6. Acute phase response (AHR) is triggered when an infection occurs.
  7. Numerous of these go to the brain, where they raise the temperature set point in the hypothalamus, causing the body to choose to maintain a higher temperature while battling the infection.

Fever occurs with the majority of diseases, thus a horse’s fever does not always indicate what is wrong with him.

Equine influenza and strangles are among the probable causes of a horse’s fever of 105 or higher.

Endotoxemia can manifest itself as a high temperature as well.

A large number of gram negative bacteria live and die in the colon, as well as going through their life cycle there.

This results in a very severe cytokine response as well as fever.

Any sick horse will continue to show signs of illness until his body begins to win the battle against whatever ailment he has been dealing with at the time.

It is possible that this will involve efforts to get the temperature down.

However, unless the fever is exceedingly high, fever is typically not an issue unless it reaches too high.

When the horse’s blood alcohol content reaches this level, most horses will not feel well.

The most essential thing for horse owners to understand, however, is that these medications will not function any better if given in greater dosages than suggested, and may even be hazardous if given in excessive amounts.

If the temperature does not subside after one dose, do not provide another.

Keep in mind that when a horse is not eating or drinking, the toxicity of these medications is significantly increased.

A low-to-moderate fever does not pose a threat to one’s life in most cases.

If the temperature is 105 degrees or greater, however, see your veterinarian since some of these illnesses need specialized care.

It can also serve as crucial information to share with your veterinarian.

A high fever that persists over an extended period of time is less common, but it can be more severe.

In certain cases, such as in horses with EIA, persistent fevers come and go (equine infectious anemia).

Tracking the fever may provide hints to your veterinarian about the horse’s illness, so have him or her inspect the animal before you attempt to cure the fever.

The severity, length, patterns of highs and lows, and other characteristics of a fever may aid your veterinarian in determining what is wrong with your horse.

Normal Horse Body Temperature, Vital Signs, & Health Indicators

The majority of people are familiar enough with their own bodies’ processes to recognize when the signs and symptoms indicate that something is awry. For example, a high temperature may suggest the presence of a fever. In order to properly care for your horse’s health, it’s critical that you recognize the same indicators that other horse owners are aware of. Horses are unable to communicate verbally, thus it is up to you to determine whether there is an issue that requires your attention. In order to assist you, this article will cover your horse’s body temperature, as well as various other vital indications that may provide you with insight into your horse’s health and present state of affairs.

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What’s the Average Body Temperature of a Horse

The temperature of your horse’s body may tell you a lot about how well they’re doing. It might be a symptom of bad health, signaling to you that you should seek medical attention. Your horse’s temperature should be between 99 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit on average, despite the fact that it will fluctuate somewhat. Veterinary attention is required if the temperature of your horse rises beyond 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is a Horse’s Body Temperature Always Consistent?

Even in the case of a healthy horse, the body temperature might fluctuate by up to three degrees Celsius. Exercise, stress, excitement, and warm weather are just a few of the environmental elements that might cause variations in your horse’s body temperature, including hot weather. It’s reasonable to expect your horse’s temperature to be somewhat elevated if you know that he’s been working hard recently. Nonetheless, it is essential to be careful and retest as soon as possible. If your pet has a persistent temperature of 102 degrees or above, you should take him to the veterinarian.

What’s the Best Way to Take a Horse’s Temperature?

With horses, the most precise approach to measure their temperature is with a rectum thermometer, which is the most commonly used type. You may get them in pharmacies or, in the best case scenario, at a tack store. Ensure that the thermometer does not get lost inside your horse by tying a long thread to the end of the thermometer’s probe. Even though it appears to be impossible, it is a very real possibility that you will not enjoy dealing with in any way. Plastic thermometers are the most reliable options, while digital thermometers are often the quickest and most convenient to use.

How to Take a Horse’s Temperature

Before attempting to take your horse’s temperature, either tie them up or have someone else keep them still while you do so. Also, keep in mind that certain horses will not be pleased with this procedure. Instead of standing immediately behind the horse, you can consider standing to the side of the horse rather than directly behind it. To begin, lubricate the thermometer with mineral oil. Vaseline or petroleum jelly can be used as a moisturizer. Then, move the tail to the side of the horse so that it is no longer in the way.

Make sure to keep the thermometer in position until the reading is accurate.

Be careful to clean and sanitize the thermometer after you have taken your horse’s temperature before putting it away. This is especially crucial if the horse was unwell at the time. If you use a horse thermometer, you don’t want to transfer bacteria and disease to other horses.

Other Important Horse Vital Signs

While the temperature of your horse’s body might provide you with a strong indicator of his current health, it is by no means the only sign you should be looking for. Many more vital signs can provide you with further insights into your horse’s health, helping you to identify and treat diseases and health concerns early on, before they have a chance to become serious problems.


Equines have pulses that are similar to human pulses in that they are a good predictor of their health. It’s possible that a horse’s heart rate is abnormally high because he’s in bodily trouble, enthusiastic, frightened, or in pain. Elevated heart rates can be caused by physical activity and heat. Furthermore, some disorders might cause your horse’s heart rate to increase, providing a strong indicator that there is an issue that needs to be addressed further. The heart rate of an adult horse should be between 30 and 40 beats per minute on average.

Horses that are younger in age have naturally greater heart rates.

Yearlings have heart rates that range between 45 and 60 beats per minute.

Breathing Rate

It is possible that the amount of breaths your horse takes per minute is an indicator of their health. Adult horses breathe at an average rate of 8-15 breaths per minute, depending on their size. Horses that are younger will take more breaths than horses that are older. Naturally, hot temperatures and physical activity can cause a horse’s respiratory rate to increase somewhat. A rapid breathing rate, on the other hand, may indicate the presence of additional problems. If you notice that your horse is breathing fast, you should call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you’re not comfortable with that, you can count breaths by observing or feeling the expansion of your horse’s ribcage with each breath.

Make certain that you count each inhalation and exhalation as a separate breath during the exercise.

Gut Noises

The stomach and intestines of your horse are continually gurgling and producing noise. To the contrary, if the stomach is silent, it typically indicates a larger risk of developing a medical condition than when the gut is producing a lot of noise. Even if you don’t hear any sounds coming from your horse’s stomach, you should contact your veterinarian right once since it might be an indication of colic. It’s simple to pay attention to your horse’s instincts. You may just push your ear against the horse’s body, just below the final rib, to get this effect.

Make careful to inspect both sides of the coin.

If you are listening for stomach noises and do not hear any sounds at first, you may want to consider enlisting the assistance of a stethoscope. You should consult with your veterinarian if you are still hearing nothing through the stethoscope after a few minutes.


horses consume an amazing quantity of water, making it possible for them to get dehydrated in a relatively short period of time. Depending on its level of activity, an adult horse will consume between 5 and 12 gallons of water per day, on average. For horses that are having trouble drinking water, you may try adding in something delicious like Gatorade or apple juice to get them to drink. If the situation persists, you’ll need to consult with your veterinarian for more assistance. There are various methods for determining whether or not your horse is dehydrated.

Simply squeeze the skin on the back of your horse’s neck and hold it for a few seconds to release the pressure.

Dehydration will cause a wrinkle or fold to emerge on the skin of a dehydrated horse, which will dissipate in around five seconds.


Adult horses have a body temperature that ranges between 99 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit on average. Anything beyond this level necessitates a visit to the veterinarian. However, the temperature of your horse is not the sole measure of his or her health. Check their heart rate and breathing rate to make sure they are healthy. Additionally, keep an ear out for gastrointestinal sounds and make sure your horse is well hydrated. If all of these factors are in agreement, your horse is most likely healthy.

How Do I Take My Horse’s Temperature?

Dr. Ben Espy, DVM, DACT is the author of this article. The question is, what is a normal temperature for a horse, and how can I determine it? A normal body temperature for an adult horse is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, whichever is lower. Equines thermoregulate in the same way as people do, which means that their bodies maintain a steady internal temperature independent of the temperature of their surroundings. Even while individual horses’ typical temperatures might vary, it’s only when they’re unwell enough to be in circulatory or septic shock that we have to be concerned about their dropping too low.

  1. Temperatures more than 101.5 degrees, on the other hand, should be taken seriously.
  2. If it remains elevated for an extended period of time, the horse may be suffering from an underlying disease or from anhidrosis, a condition in which horses lose their capacity to cool themselves through sweating, as described above.
  3. It is absolutely painless, and practically all horses are able to accept it with little difficulty.
  4. When in doubt, enlist the assistance of one or more experienced horsepeople to complete the task at hand.
  5. Thermometers for the mouth and the rectal cavity are nearly identical.
  6. The least costly models can read in around 30 seconds, whilst somewhat more expensive ones can read in less than a minute.
  7. If he is young, does not stand tethered, or if you do not know him well, ask a friend to hold him while you take his temperature and then repeat the process with him.

The fact that you are holding his lead line while taking his temperature makes it far too simple for him to turn in a circle in order to get away from you.

In order to be on his left side, hold the thermometer in your right hand; if you are on his right side, hold the thermometer in your left hand.

Doing so leaves you in an extremely vulnerable position, as your knees will not be able to bend in response to any kicks or movements he makes unexpectedly in your direction.

Ridiculously raise it to a height that allows your other hand access to the anus.

This will assist him in becoming accustomed to the sensation.

Continue to maintain tight control over the thermometer’s tail and end until the final reading is shown on the dial (consult the manual that comes with the thermometer ahead of time to see exactly how your particular brand indicates this).

When your horse exhibits indications of stress or sickness, you may use this baseline temperature as a point of reference.

A fever-reducing medicine, such as Banamine or phenylbutazone (bute), may be prescribed by your veterinarian over the phone in some situations, depending on the reason of the fever.

(Please keep in mind that, like human children, foals have somewhat higher normal and febrile temperatures than adult horses.) Their baseline temperatures can reach as high as 102 degrees, and they can spike fevers as high as 106 degrees.)) Meanwhile, maintain your horse’s vaccines for influenza (flu) and equine herpesvirus, generally known as rhinopneumonitis or “rhino,” up to date.

  • Viruses such as the flu and rhinoviruses are the most common cause of high temperatures in adult horses.
  • Benjamin Espy is an expert in horse reproductive and infertility who has worked at veterinary clinics in Texas and Kentucky for over a decade.
  • He also serves on the AAEP Board of Directors and the Board of Directors for the American College of Theriogenology, and he is a member of the American Society of Equine Practitioners Owner Education Committee ().
  • Espy also serves as the liaison for the Texas Equine Veterinary Association and as a veterinarian for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, which takes place every year in March.

An earlier version of this essay appeared in a previous edition of Practical Horsemanmagazine. With permission, this article has been reprinted. In 2016, the original author reviewed the manuscript.

Controlling Fever in Horses – The Horse

The case that a veterinarian is about to see is different for every client, and there is no way of knowing what is going to happen until he or she arrives at the door. Nevertheless, what is one of the first things that the practitioner performs in practically every case? He or she removes a thermometer from his or her pocket and checks the horse’s rectal temperature. The temperature is an important vital marker that can assist practitioners in determining the next diagnostic actions to take. In addition, a raised body temperature might be a serious clinical indicator that must be controlled in order to avoid possibly fatal effects.

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Equine Fever 101

The management of body temperature begins in the horse’s brain, where neuronal circuits operate to maintain a fixed point: the horse’s normal temperature, which fluctuates between 99 and 101.5°F. Throughout the horse’s body, temperature sensors detect changes in internal and external temperatures, transmitting signals to the brain, which in turn triggers processes (such as sweating or shivering) to maintain the body temperature as near to the set point as feasible. When an instigating event causes a shift in the brain’s thermoregulatory set point, a fever (also known as pyrexia) occurs and the horse’s body temperature rises over normal, it is said to have developed.

  1. When it comes to horses, fever is a common illness that veterinarians face, which is understandable given the vast range of probable causes.
  2. Fever can also be caused by something that isn’t known (termed fevers of unknown origin).
  3. Veterinary specialist Jennifer Davis, DVM, PhD, Dipl.
  4. Davis works as an assistant professor of clinical pharmacology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia.
  5. Furthermore, the majority of bacteria and viruses that infect a certain species thrive at their optimal levels at the temperature of that species’ usual body temperature.
  6. Short-lived fevers in horses normally cause few to no difficulties for them, but they might be alarming for their owners, according to the veterinarian.
  7. Temperatures less than 102.5-103 degrees Fahrenheit in horses are frequently not dangerous in and of themselves, according to Davis.

It has been suggested that the development of seizures is connected with extremely high temperatures (higher than 107°F), despite the fact that these temperatures are seldom achieved with usual viral infections.” This implies that providing effective fever management at the appropriate time is critical to keeping horses comfortable, preventing other problems, and assisting in their recovery.

Fever Control Options

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) are used by veterinarians to manage fever in their patients, and they have a variety of alternatives to select from. For example, Dipyrone (marketed under the brand name Zimeta) is the only FDA-approved medicine indicated for use in the treatment of pyrexia in horses. Several other commonly used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as phenylbutazone (bute), flunixin meglumine (Banamine), firocoxib (Equioxx), and ketoprofen (Ketofen) are approved for the treatment of inflammation and pain associated with musculoskeletal issues (and, in the case of flunixin, for the relief of visceral pain associated with colic), and they are also effective in the Of course, every situation is different, and veterinarians must consider a variety of criteria before determining which drug to provide in a specific situation.

They must take into account, for example, how each medicine interacts with the horse’s system.

For example, veterinarians may employ a variety of ways while treating a sport or show horse, especially when dealing with drug rules.

Taking into consideration the drug regulations of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), NSAIDs permitted for use in the United States, and administration methods, predicted detection times range from:

  • When it comes to fever management, veterinarians turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), and they have a variety of choices. When it comes to horses, Dipyrone (marketed under the brand name Zimeta) is the only FDA-approved medication that has been approved for use in the management of pyrexia in horses. In addition to phenylbutazone (bute), flunixin meglumine (Banamine), firocoxib (Equioxx), and ketoprofen (Ketofen), several other common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are FDA-approved for the control of inflammation and pain associated with musculoskeletal issues (and, in the case of flunixin, for the relief of visceral pain associated with colic). These medications are also effective in Inevitably, each case is different, and veterinarians must consider a variety of circumstances before determining which medication to provide in any given situation. Each drug’s effect on the horse’s body must be taken into consideration, for example. Because they are heavily linked to plasma proteins, several of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) approved for use in horses do not reach high quantities in the central nervous system (CNS), according to Davis. As a result, dipyrone and its metabolites reach larger concentrations in the central nervous system (CNS) and can operate directly on the part of the brain that is responsible for the fever. Veterinary techniques may also change when treating a sport or show horse, since they must adhere to certain drug rules. Think about it: you have a slight case of shipping fever. If you take into account FEI drug regulations, NSAIDs permitted for use in the United States, and administration methods, you may expect detection timeframes ranging from a few minutes to many hours.

Take-Home Message

In the end, when it comes to dealing with a fever and selecting how and when to control it, vets have a lot to take into consideration. According to Davis, horse owners should collaborate with their veterinarians in order to establish the underlying reason of their horse’s fever, whether it is detrimental or useful to their horse, and which medicine is the most effective choice for therapy based on those results.

My Horse Has a Fever: Now What? – The Horse

As a hands-on horse owner, you are the most knowledgeable person about your animals. So if one of your horses is a little late to get to the paddock gate or isn’t as thrilled to see his feed bucket as he usually is, you’ll be able to tell that anything is wrong with him. In addition, as a knowledgeable horse owner, you are aware that the first step is to check your horse’s vital signs, which involves checking a rectal temperature of your horse’s body. The typical rectal temperature of a horse can vary anywhere from 99.5° F to 101.5° F, but most horses have their own restricted temperature spectrum, so it’s critical to understand what’s normal for your particular horse’s temperature.

“Tracking your horse’s temperature is especially important for horses that travel or horses that are exposed to other horses that travel (for example, at a boarding barn),” says Kelly Carlson, DVM, Dipl.

“It’s important to monitor your horse’s temperature throughout the day,” she says.

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Is It Really a Fever?

So, let us assume that your horse’s temperature is significantly higher than normal. So, what do you do now? The next stage is to determine whether or not the patient has a real fever. The development of hyperthermia (a high body temperature) or pyrexia in horses are the two most common causes of raised body temperature in horses (fever). A typical horse’s neuronal controls in the brain work in concert to keep the horse’s body temperature at a certain level. Choosing a temperature on your home’s thermostat, which regulates your heating and cooling system, is an example.

  • When a horse suffers from hyperthermia, the body temperature increases but the set point remains constant, indicating that the animal is just overheated.
  • Heat stroke is a medical term that refers to extreme hyperthermia.
  • The temperature of the horse should return to normal in these instances when it has been allowed to cool down appropriately.
  • However, if the ambient temperature is high enough, the inability to sweat can cause hyperthermia even when the body is not exercising.
  • Equines that have rectal temperatures more than 107° F (41.5° C) may show signs of heat stress.
  • Pyrexia, which is a real fever, causes the set point to rise, and the existing feedback mechanisms then strive to keep the new set point in place as long as possible.

(To put it another way, something has dialed up the temperature on your thermostat without your knowledge.) The culprits are molecules produced by infection, inflammation, or a generalized immune response; these molecules can act as pyrogens (fever-starters), altering the body’s internal temperature.

As Carlson points out, “it is critical to remember that true fevers occur for a reason: the body is responding to a source of infection or inflammation.” According to the experts, “true fevers will not completely resolve until the underlying stimulus has been eliminated.” Identifying whether your horse is suffering from hyperthermia or a fever will assist you in directing your immediate treatment efforts.

  1. Hyperthermic horses should be cooled with cold water baths and should be kept in the shade on hot days.
  2. The use of anti-inflammatory medications such as phenylbutazone (Bute) or flunixin meglumine (Banamine) is common among horse owners, and while these medications can reduce a true fever, they will not treat the underlying disease.
  3. “ ‘Fevers of unknown origin can be extremely frustrating cases, and as veterinarians, we must take a systematic approach to determining the exact cause,” says Andrew Van Eps, BVSc, PhD, MACVSc, Dipl.
  4. In order to assist your veterinarian in diagnosing a fever of unknown origin, the first step is to document the presence of a persistent fever.
  5. Combine this information with historical findings in order to try to determine the pattern of a fever cycle.

A horse’s fever can be classified into three types: intermittent, which occurs between periods of normal temperature; remittent, which occurs daily variation that remains above the horse’s normal range; and biphasic, which occurs when there are two isolated temperature spikes over a period of several days.

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A thorough physical examination is essential, and it can assist the veterinarian in determining which body system is affected.

Thoracic (Chest-Related)Causes of Fever

When it comes to respiratory causes of fever, infection with both viral and bacterial pathogens is included. Horse influenza, equine herpesvirus (EHV-1 and -4), equine viral arteritis, and equine rhinitis are all possible viral illnesses to be involved. Fever, clear nasal discharge, and cough are all common symptoms of these disorders, which might be confused with one another. The majority of viral infections are self-limiting and only need symptomatic therapy with anti-inflammatory medications.

  1. In addition to a fever, veterinarians see increased purulent (pus-containing) nasal discharge, coughing, and higher respiratory rate in these horses, albeit it is difficult to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections based only on clinical indicators.
  2. Horses are most commonly affected by stranglesis, a bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus equisubspequitus that attacks the upper respiratory tracts of horses.
  3. Infected lymph nodes develop abscesses, which ultimately open and empty thick white material.
  4. In order to diagnose strangles, your veterinarian will send a nasal sample or a pharyngeal wash to a laboratory for testing.
  5. If your veterinarian suspects that your horse’s fever is caused by bacterial pneumonia, he or she should perform a rebreathing exam on him or her.
  6. The doctor can also perform a transtracheal wash with cytologic evaluation and fluid culture to help determine the cause of the infection.
  7. In addition, a chest ultrasound can aid in the diagnosis of pneumonia.

This issue can only be diagnosed by an echocardiography performed at a referral hospital.

Abdominal Causes of Fever

Colitis, a kind of colon inflammation caused by bacteria such as Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens or Clostridium difficile, is one of the gastrointestinal diseases that can result in fever. To identify Salmonella, a veterinarian can utilize fecal culture. A veterinarian can also test feces for clostridial toxins, which are found in the digestive tract of some animals. In addition to a fever, horses suffering with colitis frequently exhibit loose feces or diarrhea. Neorickettsia risticii, the bacterium that causes Potomac horse fever, often known as PHF, is another bacterial cause of colitis that can produce high fevers as well as the hoof disease laminitis, among other symptoms.

  • Coronavirus, which has just lately been recognized as a viral cause of gastrointestinal illness, can induce decreased appetite and, in some cases, colic symptoms (abdominal discomfort).
  • If a veterinarian suspects the presence of coronavirus, he or she should submit fecal samples for testing.
  • When it comes to diagnosing cystathostomiasis, it can be difficult because the larvae that cause the most damage do not produce eggs that can be seen on fecal flotation.
  • When these circumstances are present, modest intermittent indications of colic are frequently present along with the temperature.
  • A complete blood count and serum biochemistry can be performed to assist your veterinarian in identifying illness or malfunction of an organ system in your pet.

Blood-Borne Pathogens

Infection with a virus or bacterium that enters the horse’s circulation can result in fever and a number of additional symptoms. The virus that causes equine infectious anemia (EIA) affects both red and white blood cells and can be spread from horse to horse by the bite of an insect. Anemia (when there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in the blood) and low platelet count are among the first indicators of the disease. Edema (fluid swelling) in the limbs is also a hallmark of the condition.

  • Due to the lack of a reliable therapy or vaccination for this disease, veterinary professionals rely on the Coggins test to identify carriers and isolate them in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Increased fevers (103$deg;F), inappetance, low platelet counts, and stiffness and edema of all four limbs are all symptoms of an infection with the microbe responsible for the disease, Anaplasma phagocytophilum.
  • Horse piroplasmosis is another tick-borne disease caused by one of two parasites (Babesia caballiorTheileria equi) that dwell within the red blood cells.
  • Fever, dullness, lethargy, and pale or yellow mucous membranes are some of the clinical indications that might appear following red blood cell injury.
  • Blood samples can be obtained by your veterinarian for the purpose of determining serum antibody titers against parasites.
  • If your horse is suffering from a fever, pay particular attention to his mental state and coordination when out walking with him.
  • Infections such as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), western equine encephalitis (WEE), and West Nile virus (WNV) are spread by mosquitoes and are more common in warmer, wetter weather.

Blood samples may be taken by your veterinarian to test for these illnesses, and immunization is extremely efficient in avoiding infection in the case of EEE, WEE, and WNV. If you suspect your pet has one of these diseases, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Take-Home Message

It is not always possible to answer a high-temperature enigma, even if your veterinarian is able to examine the horse swiftly and do proper tests. Many times, a fever may subside and will not return. We frequently believe that the horse has recovered from a little viral illness and are relieved that everything is back to normal. Fever can be caused by a variety of factors. With a comprehensive physical exam and more specialized tests, your veterinarian can cut down the list of probable issues to a more manageable number.

Make certain that you are also addressing the underlying cause of the fever in order to prevent it from returning.

Does Your Horse Have A Fever?

Hello, everyone! It’s been unbearably hot and humid recently, to say the least! In light of the current weather, I thought it could be a good idea to warn everyone of a condition which poses a seasonal risk to the health of horses, particularly during the hot summer months. Potomac Horse Fever cases can occur at any time of year between late spring and early fall, although they are more prevalent in the summer months of July, August, and September as temperatures increase. Neorickettsia risticii, a bacterium, is responsible for the transmission of Potomac Horse Fever.

  • Potomac Horse Fever, on the other hand, does not spread by bites from an infected fly or mosquito.
  • risticii can occur when horses consume snails or newly hatched aquatic insects that are carrying the virus, which is called Potomac Horse Fever.
  • The apparent hazard of exposure in wet, low-lying regions should not be overlooked; horses do not need to live near to a river, stream, or other body of water in order to be at risk of contracting a disease from it.
  • These lights have a tendency to attract insects, which, when they die, can fall into and pollute feed and water supplies.
  • Mild sadness, decreased appetite, diminished or missing stomach noises, and watery diarrhea are some of the other signs and symptoms.
  • The sooner your horse is able to receive treatment from a veterinarian, the greater the chances of recovery for your horse!
  • Check out this Fact Sheet, which can be found on the Rutgers Equine Science Center website, for information on how to take your horse’s temperature and other vital indicators like as respiration and heart rate.

Horses often recover fast, with most showing signs of improvement within 12 hours after therapy.

Equine Potomac Horse Fever is not communicable, which means that horses with the disease do not need to be separated from other healthy horses on your property.

It’s unfortunate that the vaccination provides only minimal protection.

The protection provided by vaccination is very temporary (approximately 3-4 months).

In other words, if your horse hasn’t had a booster vaccine for Potomac Horse Fever since the spring, now would be an excellent opportunity to consult with your veterinarian about immunization methods and risk factors specific to your horse.

Finally, keep in mind how critical it is to check your horse’s temperature on a regular basis and to be on the lookout for any changes in behavior that could suggest that your four-legged companion is feeling under the weather, as described above.

Let’s all work together to keep our horses healthy so that they (and you!) may enjoy the remainder of the summer! Maintain Your Cool! Lord Nelson is a British naval officer who served during the Napoleonic Wars.

What to Do When Your Horse Has a Fever

The last time I went to the stable, I discovered that my horse was dejected and disinterested in his food. I immediately contacted the veterinarian since I was concerned about colic. It found out that he was suffering from a fever. Did anything else need to be done before the vet could arrive that I overlooked?


It seems like your horse got listless and uninterested in his meals all of a sudden and abruptly, but you were unable to determine what was wrong with him. A wonderful illustration of why it is beneficial to check your horse’s rectal temperature is in this situation. Adult horses have normal rectal temperatures that are less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (Celsius). If the horse’s temperature is raised, especially if he isn’t feeling well, this is a serious concern that should be explored. In most cases, a high core temperature is accompanied by elevated respiratory and heart rates, as well as a lack of desire in food or drink.

A horse that has overheated as a result of activity may have a temperature in excess of 103 degrees, but this should return to near normal within 30 minutes; otherwise, the horse should be sent to a veterinarian immediately.

The following are examples of conditions that might result in a fever:

  • Infections caused by viruses or bacteria, an infected wound and/or cellulitis, heat stress, bad responses to drugs, insects, or other environmental allergies are also possibilities.

It is advisable to contact your veterinarian if your pet has a fever due to the likelihood of a systemic condition that might progress if not treated immediately. A few basic tactics may be used to make your horse more comfortable while waiting for the vet to come. He should be relocated to a place that is shady and well-ventilated. With the exception of bad weather or winter circumstances that might lead him to become chilled, remove any blankets or sheets that may be trapping heat. If you have a temperature higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you should seek medical attention immediately.

It’s preferable to soak only the areas in front of his shoulders; soaking his entire body with water might lead him to become overheated and collapse.

In the following step, a veterinarian will thoroughly examine your horse in order to determine what may be wrong and treat it as necessary using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or antibiotics if needed.

This story first appeared in the November 2015 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. It has been updated. To subscribe, please visit this page.

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