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Home > General > What is Equine Strangles? Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

What is Equine Strangles? Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

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If you own one or more horses, it’s important to keep up with the different illnesses they may face, so you have a better chance of keeping them healthy. Equine Strangles is one such disease, and if you’ve never heard of it or would like to learn more about it, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading while we discuss what this disease is, along with its symptoms and how you might be able to treat it.

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What Is Equine Strangles?

Equine Strangles is a contagious bacterial infection that affects horses. It causes the lymph nodes to block the upper airway making it difficult to breathe, essentially strangling your horse which is where it gets its name.

Swelling in the lymph nodes can create abscesses that can rupture and release a discharge, and some horses may take a strange posture where they stretch out their neck and nose to help them get more air.

Other symptoms of Equine Strangles include a decreased appetite, a fever with a temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, a nasal discharge that can range from thin and clear to thick and yellow. Some horses can carry the disease without showing symptoms allowing them to spread it more easily.

Female vet checking horse teeth
Image By: wavebreakmedia, Shutterstock


A veterinarian will use a swab test to grow a culture to check for Equine Strangles. A needle aspirate from an abscessed wound might be another method your vet users to check for this disease. If the diagnosis is complicated, the veterinarian in charge might use ultrasound or a radiogram to locate abscesses.


Luckily, treatment for Equine Strangles is not terribly expensive and primarily requires your hours should get plenty of rest. You will need to monitor the horse closely to make sure it gets plenty of food and water. You also need to make sure the horse isn’t in any pain and try to keep it comfortable.

Most horses will get better without any intervention, but some vets may prescribe antibiotics to speed recovery. In rare cases, your horse will need surgery to create an opening in the airway to help it breathe. It usually takes between three and six weeks for your horse to heal completely.


The best way to prevent your horse from contracting Equine Strangles is to minimize your horse’s exposure to it. Having your horse frequently swabbed when it’s near places that may breed the virus, like racetracks and stables with a large number of horses, will help you catch the disease early. Separate any infected horses from the rest immediately so it doesn’t spread. If you purchase a new horse, keep it quarantined until you are sure it doesn’t have anything contagious.

White horse eating hay in the stable
Image Credit: Konstantin Tronin, Shutterstock

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Equine Strangles is a serious illness that can make it very difficult for your horse to breathe. Your horse will be uncomfortable and unhappy for several weeks. The small lymph nodes will not only make it difficult to breathe, but it will be difficult to eat as well. It’s best to get the horse frequently swabbed, especially if you notice symptoms, so your vet can assess how bad the infection is and prescribe the proper treatment.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this short guide and found it helpful in answering your question. If we have helped you be better informed, please share our look into Equine Strangles on Facebook and Twitter.

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