Equine Strangles is a bacterial infection (Streptococcus equi subspecies equi) of the upper respiratory tract of horses, causing enlargement of the lymph nodes in the throat, which may impair breathing.

Strangles is highly contagious and is one of the most commonly diagnosed equine diseases in the UK.

Some horses may carry the infection but show no outwardly signs. The main symptoms include:

  • nasal discharge
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • lymph node swelling and abscesses predominantly of the head and neck

Unfortunately, amongst some horse owners there is still a stigma attached to admitting their horse has strangles, which frequently hinders both quick diagnosis and effective control of the spread of the disease.

The Animal Health Trust in association with the British Horse Society Scotland and Intervet/Schering-Plough has produced further information on the guidelines for preventing and treating Strangles.

Strangles treatment

Most horses suffering from strangles just need good quality nursing, including rest and anti-inflammatories. Feed hay and hard feed on the floor to encourage drainage. Abscesses can be hot-packed to encourage them to burst, or your vet may lance them. The use of antibiotics to treat strangles remains controversial and is best addressed by your own vet on a case-by-case basis. Fresh air can help affected horses, but turnout can result in grazing becoming contaminated.

Vitamin C and Strangles: The horse can synthesize (make) some of its own Vitamin C, but this natural supply can be severely depleted in times of high demand or stress. Vitamin C has many important biological functions; it is an antioxidant, involved in the body’s response to infection, mineral absorption, metabolism of Vitamin D and the synthesis of collagen. Effectively, additional Vitamin C helps a horse adapt to increased stress – be it from being stabled, to extreme temperatures, immune challenge or intense effort.

As Strangles is a respiratory infection and Vitamin C is proven to support the horse’s natural lung defences, adding Vitamin C to your horse’s diet can help a horse fight the infection, although, of course, it is not a cure!

Simplyboost Resilience from Equilibrium Products is a high concentrate liquid Vitamin C supplement which can be easily added to feed when required. In handy 100ml bottles, Simplyboost Resilience is flavoured with natural mint and is suitable for all horses and ponies.

Written by: Hannah