Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Discharge from One Nostril (White, Yellow or Green)

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Drainage from one nostril is usually indicative of a disease process originating in the head, as opposed to one originating in the lower airway or lungs. One sided discharge is commonly associated with diseases of the sinuses and nasal passages.

Small amounts of clear discharge from equine nostrils is considered a normal finding. White discharge is commonly associated with viral or allergic processes. Yellow discharge tends to be associated with bacterial infection. Green nasal discharge can indicate feed material within it. One-sided yellow nasal discharge is not usually a result of an infectious (contagious) disease, but it can be. Discharges with bad odor usually indicate a disease process that involves tooth or bone and is usually a sign of more serious disease. Dental disease is a common cause of sinusitis.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to whether or not there is a fever, and/or a cough, and whether there swelling or discharge from the face, jaw or throat. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

There is a small chance that the underlying condition is contagious (far less than if the discharge were from both nostrils). Wash your hands with antiseptic soap before touching other horses. Do not share tack or equipment with other horses, until your vet has seen the horse and determined the nature of the problem.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet may treat the problem symptomatically, or attempt to make a diagnosis. Because true one-sided nasal discharges usually are a sinus or nasal passage problem, we often use radiography and endoscopy to help us make a diagnosis.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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