What Is Strangles In Horses?

We are always worried about our animals, particularly if they suddenly strike them down. When we don’t know about how disease works with our animals it can cause us even more worry than the disease itself.

What is strangles in horses?

This is why it is always important to understand the varieties and extents of disease that afflict animals like horses. 

So, if you have heard of a disease called strangles related to horses you might be worried as to what it is and how it can harm your animal.

You need no longer worry as this article will tell you exactly what strangles is and how best to handle it if your horse has it. 

What Is Strangles In Horses?

First of all, let’s make clear what exactly strangles is. Strangles is a colloquial name given to the disease that results from a bacteria that scientists have named Streptococcus equi. 

Streptococcus equi occurs when a horse that is infected either coughs or snorts and the bacteria is then either directly passed on to another horse or is passed on to someone who has regular contact with horses. 

The bacteria then affects the lymph nodes around the horse’s jaw and can therefore restrict the horse from chewing or moving its mouth much – in the most extreme cases it can cause the horse to have severe difficulty breathing which is where it gets its other name,

strangles from – the disease can quite literally strangle a horse, sometimes sadly even to death. 

Now that we’ve explained exactly what strangles is, let’s discuss what the symptoms of this disease are.

What Are The Symptoms Of Strangles In A Horse?

There are several different symptoms of strangles in horses and they are not limited to one particular set of symptoms – however, below are the most common symptoms of strangles that exist in horses.

Strangles are most often seen around the nose area, where horses will be likely to discharge from the nasal cavities. This discharge is likely to be thick and a creamy yellow pus.

The reason for this is that when a horse has strangles it can cause the lymph nodes around the jaw and nose to swell and eventually burst, which of course causes the pus filled discharge. 

This isn’t the only sign that a horse has strangles either of course. Horses that have strangles also often have high temperatures, well above 38.5. 

They also have a tendency to regularly cough and to also have a reluctance to eat or drink – the reason of course being that the strangles that have infected them has caused them to be unable to properly move their jaw. 

Another prominent symptom is lethargy and depression. This again is caused by the horse’s mouth being restricted due to the bacteria that has become stuck in their system.

As the horse cannot mouth its mouth or eat it feels the need to conserve its energy and this will of course lead to depression. 

Now that we’ve explained what the exact symptoms of strangles are, let’s turn to explaining how best to curse this particular infectious disease.

What is strangles in horses?

How To Cure Strangles 

The first thing you need to do when you think your animal has strangles is to call your local vet. This is so that they can then give their professional opinion on how to deal with the disease. 

It is also important that you make sure that your animal is isolated because you do not want the disease being passed on to other animals either in your own home or in other neigboring homes. 

Once your vet has been to take samples from the horse that is suspected of being infected, it is time to ensure that the area in which the infected horse is locked down to ensure that there is no movement of the horse or of any other animals or horses in the vicinity of the infected horse.

This is vitally important in repressing the spread of the disease. 

Once it has been confirmed that the horse does indeed have strangles it is vitally important that treatment is started straight away.

The best way to cure strangles is to nurse the horse and give it medication, depending on what your vet advises. 

The process of the horse recovering from strangles usually takes between three to four weeks for the infection to be cured,

however in some instances it can take up to six weeks for the horse to be fully cured – this is because sometimes a horse might seem as if it has become cured however, it can still be infectious. 

Always check with your vet first to make sure that there are no signs of strangles in your horse before you release it from being locked down because even if the horse seems better, it will not help anyone if it passes the disease on to another animal. 

It is also worth making sure that you regularly test to see if any other horses in your care are suffering from strangles to make sure you haven’t carried it from the infected animal to another horse. 

Why It Is Important To Know About Strangles 

Strangles can be a truly horrible and debilitating disease for a horse to suffer from. It can cause a horse and its owner much pain – the horse pain through the disease and the owner pain through having to see their animal suffer. 

This is why it is so vitally important that all horse owners know about strangles and know how to deal with it because it is a truly horrific virus that, if passed on from horse to horse in your stables, can cause serious distress and pain. 

Strangles can only be stopped by being vigilant to the potential signs of it in your horse. Ensuring that your horse is healthy, and disease free has to be your number one priority as an owner and therefore it is crucial that you do your best to monitor your horse’s health at all times. 

Only through vigilance and knowledge about diseases that attack horses can we ensure that all horses are properly protected and able to lead happy, healthy and contented lives.

Catherine McDowl
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