How to Treat Strangles in Horses

The prevention and management of horse strangles and how your vet can treat strangles.

The treatment of strangles relies mainly on you the horse owner, but how to treat strangles is down to your vet.

Your vet can treat the symptoms and instruct you on how to keep your horse comfortable and possibly prevent further outbreaks.

Can my vet treat strangles & what can my vet do :

Any horse suspected of suffering from strangles should be isolated from all other horses and veterinary advice should be sought immediately.

Strangles is almost always very difficult to treat and treatment often revolves around your supportive care, good stable management and hygiene.

This is determined by your attending vet.

Your vet may not always use antibiotics since studies have shown that antimicrobials cannot easily penetrate the abscess capsule.

Assessing the use of antibiotics is best left to your attending vet

What is horse strangles prevention and management

If your vet prescribes antibiotics they will usually resolve the infection but in severe cases the abscess or abscesses may need to be lanced and the horse fed intravenous fluids.

  • After the lymph nodes swell and abscesses form, many vets will advise only symptomatic therapy consisting of warm packs to help the abscesses mature and possibly surgical opening.
  • Vets may also recommend you wash (lavage) the abscess cavity or cavities with antiseptic solution until thay are healed.

This can often be weeks after the first signs of the disease.

Treating Strangles & Complications :

Strangles can be fatal in one percent of cases, but complications are more frequent.

  • In some outbreaks up to 10% of horses can develop abscesses in other body organs which grow and rupture, a form known as bastard strangles.
  • Purpura hemorrhagica (widespread small bleeding along with fluid accumulation (oedema) of the limbs, eye lids and gums) may occur in association with circulating antibody complexes with Strep equi M-like protein. The peripheral accumulation of fluid can be so extreme that circulatory failure and death ensue.
  • A-Typical Strangles presents as flu-like symptoms, this is a complication that can become persistent on a yard.
NOTE: With Strangles there is absolutely no substitute for qualified veterinary care
The information detailed above is for guidance only. Please consult & refer to your vets advice in relation to any medical treatment or the treatment of horse strangles or any other infectious equine disease.