Identifying Types of Nasal Discharge in Horses


Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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38 Responses

  1. Jo Jepheart says:

    Very useful information thank you. Also clearly written.

    I am not asking you to diagnose or treat. I am in contact with my vet.
    Question……can you suggest anything herbal or otherwise to help support the horses immune system?

    The horses on my yard have a virus…..slight nasal discharge. Mucoid with a cough. As time goes on the cough gets deep and throaty. The horses look well in themselves, eating, happy etc.

    Of course I can’t move my horse and pass onto another yard, I wondered if you have any advise to help my mare fight it off?
    Or help her get over it quicker if she shows signs.

    Many thanks

    • then5925 says:

      Hi Jo. Personally, I’ve had success with giving spirulina powder as an immune booster. I’m feeding it right now actually as one of my older horses is prone to spring allergies. You can get it from a variety of sources online. I usually order mine from though.

      • Michele says:

        I use Spirulina also. I get it from

        It does help somewhat. My horse is prone to sinus infections. No bad tooth roots and has had sinus surgery. Since the Surgery and Spirulina added to his diet, the next sinus infection he got was not as sever. Sure would love to know why he keeps getting them though. Spent a small fortune at the Vet. last year trying to figure it out.

  2. Lisa McCain says:

    I really enjoyed reading these articles,I’ve learned a lot and I’m looking for to reay more.

  3. HI Casey, we have a horse with intermittent discharge and no other symptoms at all. No swelling, no smell, no coughing, no fever, no sensitivity to palpation or touching. It only occurs when the weather get warmer which leads me to believe that it’s allergy related. We’re monitoring for now

    How much spirulina do you give your horses and what do you think about rosehips?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Kate, I feed about 1 tablespoon of spirulina, twice per day. Some horses don’t like the taste, so start with smaller amounts though. Rosehips are high in vitamin C which which might be helpful as well. Wouldn’t hurt to try!

    • Zoe Robertson says:

      Hi Kate What happened with your horses discharge was it an allergy? I have a mare who we bought April this year and when I bring her in she seems to get a runny nose in one nostril. Its yellow doesn’t smell, she doesnt cough and is never unwell. It only appears occasionally and only first thing in the morning. When exercised sometimes we get a clear discharge but again no pattern. She has been tested for strangles and was clear and had one lot of anti biotics but this doesn’t solve the problem indefiniately. I think allergy but on sawdust in stable ,feed on floor bought a haybar for hay to keep head down (and drainage) but still get odd days did anyhting work for you? Sure its an allergy just not sure of what she is reacting. Thanks in advance.

  4. lolli says:

    Hi my name is lolli and I am 11 years old. I have a horse named winnie who has been having bilateral nasal discharge and she has no other symptoms at all.I have done a butt load of research on this but I can’t seem to find anything on it so if you have any suggestions please please please please let me know.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Lolli, I’m impressed that you are so young and are doing all this research! As for your horse, have you taken him/her to a vet? That would be the place to start. Does this happen only at certain times of the year or all year round? Could be allergy related. If so, there are some great herbs and natural remedies you can use for allergies. Nutrition is also very important. Providing balanced minerals can help with so many conditions. Hay or grass usually isn’t enough–a good mineral supplement is usually necessary. Best of luck to you ad Winnie. 🙂

  5. MaryRose says:

    Hello, My pony is very old. He is 36 and pretty healthy for that age. Currently my pony (Andy) has a very strange nose problem and I cannot figure out what it might be. Its green runny, and comes out of both his nostrils and mouth. When he coughs the green stuff splats everywhere. Its really gross but I am very worried about his health. I have had him since I was 4, I am now 13. Do you have any idea what it might be? Thanks, MaryRose

    • Casie says:

      Hi MaryRose. I’m sorry to hear that your pony is having some problems. It’s hard for me to say what the issue is, but it might have something to do with allergies. Does this only happen in the spring? Your best bet would be taking him to a vet though, as nasal discharge could be caused from a number of different things. Good luck to you both.


  6. oscar says:

    my horse is coughing and is having micus discharge , whata a good medecine to give him , someone help plz

    • Casie says:

      Hi Oscar,

      I would suggest getting a vet to look at him first. There are many reasons why horses cough and have nasal discharge. It’s difficult for me to make a suggestion when I don’t know the cause. Best of luck to you and your horse.


      • Shikira says:

        Hi I’m 12 years old my name is shikira one of my horses well Shetland pony keeps coughing and has nasal discharge I have done so much research but I still don’t know what to do what do you think?

        • Casie says:

          Hi Shikira,

          It’s possible that your horse might have allergies or even a more serious condition, like Heaves. I recommend having him/her looked at by a vet though.

    • Dianne says:

      Do not wait and take chances, you could end up with a dead horse. I have seen several horses, if I had not got help for them they would have died. My baby horses 3 moth old had strangels, I called the vet right away. I sat with her held her up it was taking forever for the vet to come. She fineally showed up at 8:30pm , I almost lost her, This happened in one day, the vet was shocked and could not had been so sorry for taking her time.

  7. Kristi says:

    What is the best treatment for my old gray mare with a sinus infection caused from a bad tooth that has been extracted? Her forehead, which had a drain, constantly blows up like a unicorn horn, breaks and drains. After 10k at the vet, $7,800. for the tooth extraction and the vet saying this is what I have now, I am so sad. This mare raised every baby and befriended every animal on my property, I don’t want this for her. Any suggestions?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Kristi,

      I’m very sorry to hear about your mare. I know how frustrating it can when you want to help, but aren’t sure what course of action to take (especially after spending so much money already!) Personally, I would focus on boosting her immune system with herbs and nutrition. Cut out any sweet feeds (anything with molasses) and feed unprocessed feeds (if possible) and good quality hay. Here is an article with a list of herbs that boost immune function:

      Acupressure/ acupuncture/ massage can also help if you can afford to do that. Also, you might check into using some essential oils (aromatherapy). Best of luck to you.

  8. Melissa says:

    Hello, my horse Star is a 10 year old Arabian gelding and he has had some yellowish green drainage from his nose. We moved to a new farm in June and thats when I started noticing it so I didnt know if he was eating some kind of different weed or grass that he had an allergy to or what was going on. He doesnt act sick and there is no odor from his nose. I dont want the cold weather to come and him be sick. I noticed yesterday that it seemed alot worse. Any advise you have would be appreciated.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Melissa,

      It does sound like your horse is suffering from allergies, but to be safe, you might want to have him checked by your veterinarian. With that said, I have several posts on the blog about natural remedies for allergies. You can do a search for them by typing ‘allergies’ in the search box at the top right. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  9. Lindsay says:

    Hi Casey;
    I’ve had my gelding develop a small number of spots of rain rot this past week. Then yesterday he started coughing and has green mucous in both nostrils. No temperature. Any suggestions?

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi, I was wondering why you didn’t include white and mucous-like, which is usually a sign of allergies, in your list?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Eileen, I believe that is technically labeled ‘serous’. It’s white to clear and often is related to allergies.

  11. Louise says:

    My horse had an extra tooth next to the last molar. The one snotty nostril went on for 18 months until the tooth was extracted.

  12. Gerry says:

    I have a 6yr oldThoroughbred race horse , who was racing well , we had noticed some yellow Micas coming out of her left nostril a week before her last race , it cleared up and we thought she’d be ok , but ran last , the next day the yellow turned to a green slime just pouring out of her , tried antibiotics , had XRays take of jaw , nothing’s really showed up , it’s now 8weeks , she hasn’t lost weight , eats well etc ,also have tried Collodial Silver ,any suggestions

  13. Susan says:

    Hi case my husband horse has just starting coughing yesterday when coughing front and gas at other end at both times he looks healthy string eating running but a huge greeny yellow sorry snot came out of his one nose .I just started with honey cinnamon and channel pepper mixed in his feed can I give him anything he’s 7 yr

  14. Susan says:

    Sorry cyanne pepper

  15. Carol Mackay says:

    Of the nasal discharges you list below, which one would likely be caused from severe smoke inhalation?

    In my novel an old gelding dies soon after a barn fire and in describing his physical appearance I would like to describe the naval discharge. Would it be clear and watery, yellow and muscous-like, green-yellow, thick and pus-like, or bloody?

    Many thanks for your help,

    Serous: clear and watery
    Mucoid: yellow and mucous-like
    Purulent: green-yellow, thick and pus-like (ewww!)
    Sanguineous: bloody

    • Casie says:

      Hi Carol–I write fiction as well, so I can relate to your desire to get the small details like this right! I have never seen a horse with severe smoke inhalation, but I would imagine it would cause the serous type of discharge because the other types are associated more with bacterial or viral infections. I suppose bloody discharge could also be a possibility in a situation like this. A vet who’s treated horses after a barn fire would probably be your best bet if you’re really concerned about getting this right though. Good luck with your novel!

  16. Cowgirl skip says:

    My horse did have white discharge come of on e his nostrils done it clear can a horse get allergies of a yellow flowers no fever on cough eat and drink real good just happened when spring start

  17. Kyle Long says:

    Our 13 year old stallion has a a clear to light yellow, thin nasal drainage out of both nostrils, although heavier flow from his right side. No temperature or any other signs of sickness. Lives in a nice environment, gets good hay and Purina’s Strategy feed. Not in close proximity to other horses, has not been to a show for a couple of years.
    Any advice or experience with this type of problem.

  18. Mary says:

    We recently went on a trail
    Ride for four days. Our horses have never been sick but two days later my husband horse acted sickly, had a fever, wouldn’t eat feed, finally green mucus from one nostril.
    Our horses have had all their shots, up to date on everything!!! Called vet, said it could be virus picked up on trail or from another infected horse….finally was given antibiotics, the fever has come down but he still doesn’t act 100 percent yet….blood work was done and showed no signs of infection……he’s eating hay, nibbling on grass but eating little feed….. anyone have suggestions on what else to do?

    • Casie says:

      I’m sorry to hear this, Mary. It can be scary when your horse becomes suddenly ill. I would guess it’s a virus, too, but if he isn’t better in a few days, I’d definitely keep investigating. Best of luck to you.

  1. November 14, 2013

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