Is A Fever Always Cause For Concern?

A fever is not something to take lightly, in humans or animals. An elevated body temperature is often an early indication of bacterial or viral infection. Normal body temperatures for horses is between 98 and 100 degrees F. Some horse’s temperatures will be a bit above this naturally, but regardless, a generally healthy horse will have the same temperature from day to day. This is why knowing a horse’s baseline body temperature is important; taking a horse’s temp once or twice a month will let horse owners and caretakers know what “normal” is for each horse.

If a horse is behaving normally, eating and drinking, a slightly elevated temperature of 100 to 102 degrees F may be no cause for concern, especially if he’s just gotten done exercising or been blanketed. Called hyperthermia, this condition is not the same as a fever. In this case when a horse’s situation changes, his body temperature will return to normal.

If the elevated temperature doesn’t abate, or if he’s refusing to eat or looks dull, a call to a veterinarian is warranted. Your vet will ask questions to narrow down the possible causes of the fever. He or she may ask if the horse has been coughing or if it has been injured. In some cases, the fever may be so slight that no treatment is needed.

A temperature of 103 degrees F or higher could indicate the horse has a serious disease like Potomac horse fever or endotoxemia, where an early intervention is critical to survival. If his temperature is closer to 106, prepare to take the horse to a clinic if the vet can’t get there immediately. A fever that high can damage organs and tissues.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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