Strangles in horses – Use of Aloe Vera in Veterinary

Strangles in horses – Use of Aloe Vera in Veterinary

Strangles in horses

StranglesStrangles in horses a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract, which although traditionally occurring mainly in young animals, today is more frequently seen in horses of all ages.

Horses are infected by ingesting or inhaling the bacteria and usually develop signs within 10 days.


In the early stages, strangles can look very like any of the viral upper respiratory tract infections with a fever, poor appetite, depression, discharges from the eyes and nose as well as a slight cough.

The mandibular lymph nodes also start to enlarge as seen in rhinopneumonitis and in addition to do the submaxillary and

The nasal discharge soon becomes much-purulent and the cough worsens, the lymph nodes enlarge further and the fever can reach 106° F.

Abscesses also develop at the back of the throat (pharynx).

Horses often keep their necks outstretched due to the painful lymph node abscesses.

StranglesSwallowing is difficult and painful and the abscesses can compress the windpipe (strangles) producing a respiratory sound when the horse breathes.

The abscesses usually rupture over a 10-day period, although some may require lancing.

If the infection spreads from these lymph nodes it can settle in the lymph nodes within the body cavity leading to a condition called “bastard strangles”.

If these ruptures, repercussions for the horse will be catastrophic.

The infection can also spread to the guttural pouches leading to an empyema (accumulation of pus) and in immunologically compromised horses purpura haemorrhagica may develop.

Treatment of Strangles in horses 

Suspected cases must always be examined by a veterinary surgeon who will advise on treatment and isolation.

No preventative vaccinations are available in the UK, although they are abroad.

As with the upper respiratory tract viral diseases, attention to good nursing is very important.

Aloe First

External throat abscesses should be encouraged to ripen and rupture by the application of hot fomentations.

Traditionally these were made using hot bran mashes that were placed into a pillow case and then tied to a head collar so they fit snugly under the towel.

In between application of hot fomentations, Aloe heat lotion can be applied to the skin over the abscesses.

Once the abscesses have burst they can be rinsed out with Aloe Vera First followed by an application of Aloe Vera Gelly.

Aloe Vera Gel

The addition of Aloe Vera gel to the diet at the treatment rate is beneficial (250mfs per day).
Bee propolis tablets (8-20 daily) can also help hasten the course of the disease.

Horses Strangles in horses

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