Treating Horse Flu

ArticleHow To - HealthTuesday 23 February 2010
Treat Equine Flu

Equine influenza can come in a number of forms in a horse. There is not a cure as such for horse flu, but there are ways of treating a sick horse to ease some of the discomfort and help along the recovery process. There are also measures that you can take for preventing any future illness occurring in your horse. For a guide to treating horse flu, see the following information.

Symptoms of Equine Influenza:

•    Rapid onset
•    High fever
•    Coughing
•    Depression
•    Nasal discharge
•    Weakness
•    Loss of appetite

Minor cases will normally sort themselves out within about 3 days. Mild cases can last up to 3 weeks. Severe bouts could go on for up to 6 months.


If your horse has equine influenza rest is key. This rest can last for weeks at a time until the sick horse recovers. Resting will minimise the time the horse flu virus takes to clear up. It will also allow for mucociliary apparatus to regenerate. In the 3 weeks or so that this takes place, a horse is more vulnerable to more serious illnesses. You can help avoid these complications by: keeping exercise to a minimum; providing a dust free environment; ensuring good ventilation; keeping stables clean.


If the horse’s fever causes his temperature to go higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you may need to give him some NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). These will not cure the equine influenza, but will give comfort and relieve some symptoms. High temperatures can be very dangerous for a horse.

Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if the fever goes on for more than a few days. Pneumonia and nasal discharge could occur and should not be ignored. These are severe symptoms that will need immediate treatment.


Be careful not to use the same brush or equipment used on a sick horse, on your other horses. This could pass the horse flu on. Keep ill horses away from healthy ones as equine influenza is extremely contagious.

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