Signs & Symptoms of the Common Cold in Horses

horses image by Earl Robbins from

Animals can get many of the same types of diseases that humans do, and among the diseases horses can get is the common cold. A horse with a cold may show a variety of signs and symptoms, many of which are the same as those in humans, and some that are common only to horses.

Respiratory Symptoms

Among the first symptoms of a common cold in horses is a clear nasal discharge. As the disease progresses, the discharge may thicken and turn cloudy. Eventually, the horse may develop a cough that can range from dry to very moist. The horse may also experience irritated and watery eyes.


When humans have a cold, they often don't run a fever, and if they do, it is usually low-grade. But horses can run very high fevers when they get a cold. The normal temperature of a horse is somewhere around 37.8 degrees Celsius, and anything above 102 is considered a fever, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Horses can run fevers as high as 105.5 in the early stages of a respiratory infection, including a cold, according to Horse Talk of New Zealand. The fever may occur for only a short period of time but it often returns several days later.

Other Symptoms

Horses can exhibit a variety of other signs and symptoms when they have the common cold. They may seem depressed and will eat and drink less than normal or not at all. The horse may appear lethargic and not want to participate in normal activities. The horse's heart rate and breathing rate also may become elevated, which is usually in response to a fever.