Common Winter Horse Health Issues and How to Resolve Them

As temperatures begin to drop, the risks of your horse getting sick increase. There are several things you must look out for in order to make sure your horse stays in good health throughout the winter. There are a number of potential illnesses and problems that can arise. 


Horse drinking water


During the winter, horses often get dehydrated because they are less likely to drink water unless it is warm. Getting your horse to drink water during these color months can be challenging because the low temperatures make the water too chilly to drink. Giving your horse warm water will help keep them hydrated. 

To provide warm water for your horse, try buying a tank or bucket heater. This will insulate where they drink from keeping the water warm. Adding a bit of salt can lower the freezing point of water and boost their sodium intake. It is important to take these precautions because dehydration can contribute to a number of serious health risks for your horse; it may increase the chance of colic.


Horse eating feed

Respiratory problems 

The colder months can bring a weakened immune system. It can also affect their environment as hay may become damp or moldy and the dusk may begin to fill up the stable. This leads to an increased incidence of respiratory issues for horses. This can aggravate any existing conditions in your horse like asthma or cause COPD in your horse. 

To prevent your horse from suffering from respiratory issues try providing additional supplements to support their immune system. At Equine Medical and Surgical Associates, we provide a supplement “Heave Ho” that will maintain your horse’s health and relieve any pain your horse is experiencing. Make sure you are also checking your hay regularly and make sure your stables have adequate ventilation.


Vet checking horse's joints

Joint stiffness 

Due to freezing temperatures, horses often develop severe joint stiffness and pain in horses that can lead to chronic conditions such as arthritis. Horses are less likely to be as active as they were in warmer weather, and with the lack of exercise their bodies are used to, this will create stiffness in their body. It is important that you continue to exercise with your horse as the movement helps create heat in the body as well as keep them flexible. 

Horses who lose mobility in joints often have a harder time getting back to pristine condition. Use a supplement in your horse’s diet to avoid joint stiffness. “Comfort Quik” is a product we provide to help with joint movement. This is a great supplement for backyard horses or older horses. This will help your horse move better and in comfort. You can also give frequent massages or apply a natural rub to soothe the joints and muscles. 


Horse hooves


With the ground freezing and then defrosting throughout the winter, your horse may be walking in muddy and wet conditions. You cannot neglect hoof health during the winter. It can be a hassle to keep them clean and dry with continuous wet weather, but this could lead to many health issues including white line disease, thrush, or horse canker. To help prevent these issues coat your horse’s hooves with antibacterial/anti-fungal treatments. While taking all the right precautions, sometimes situations become unavoidable. If your horse does develop any hoove issues, a great supplement we offer is Canker Powder


Horse in flower field

Weight management 

Horses often tend to lose weight during the winter as they burn more calories trying to stay warm. Increase their feed loads or add supplements to keep them happy and healthy. If your horse is underweight, you must begin to increase their forage consumption. You can increase beneficial fat and additional calories by increasing the grain ratio to hay or adding stabilized rice bran, whole flax, or whole roast soy. 

Winter can be a tough season to manage your horses' health, but we are here to help! We have several supplements that will keep your horse in great health and will help manage any pain they are experiencing. Visit our website to view all the supplements we have to offer.