A Silent But Deadly Issue

A cautionary tale….

If you Ever deal with a starving horse you need to remember all about this.

We have to say that if there is one thing we have become experts in, it is severe starvation cases.

We want to talk to you about an issue that often arises in severe starvation cases, that many veterinarians miss because handling starving horses day in and out isn’t usually what they do.

We are not veterinarians. But there is significant merit in the voice of experience, and this occurrence has happened time and time again in our rescue.

When a severe starvation case comes in, for the next TEN days, someone should take the horse’s temperature twice a day, and I am going to tell you exactly why.

Starving horses very often come down with pneumonia but it does NOT present like regular ole horse pneumonia. They actually call it “The Silent Pneumonia.”


The first symptom is the horse won’t drink well. Then the lungs get quieter. You don’t hear all the crackles and wheezes at first like typical pneumonia.

cc intake vetting

Next, the horse runs a very low temperature for a while. If antibiotics are thrown at this as soon as the low grade fever is caught, very often the horse will pull through.


By the time the starving horse has labored breathing, it is generally too late. They get dehydrated, the fever burns up what little reserves are left in their ravaged bodies, and the labored breathing quickly saps their energy.

In this case, it is so much better to err on the side of caution and insist your veterinarian give an antibiotic before OTHER signs present. Excede is usually what is effective in this case.

equine pneumonia

The Rapid Infection Test even often will not detect that this is going on and the vet will try to encourage you to wait and see. And IF it is this silent pneumonia and the horse is a starvation case, they will be lost shortly after the labored breathing begins.

We strive to educate to improve the welfare of horses before they ever need a rescue.

As Right Horse Partners, we are here to create a more compassionate, pragmatic support system for those doing right by people and by horses, so you can count on us to help you with advice or education! #RIGHTHORSE

We hope you will help us by sharing and sharing these educational articles that come from our experiences.

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