Also Known As



Pleurisy is a painful inflammation of the membrane that lines the inside of the horse's chest cavity and covers the lungs. The condition results in fluid accumulation and affects the horse's breathing. It is often a complication of equine influenza, pneumonia, guttural pouch infection, or lung abscess.


  • Coughing
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Initially a grunting sound with each breath changing to diminished or absent breath sounds as condition worsens


Pleurisy is a lung infection that affects the membrane lining the chest cavity and covering the lungs. It is often a complication of other diseases, such as equine influenza, pneumonia, or guttural pouch infection. Rarer causes include a pulmonary embolism, cancer, or arthritis.


Preventing pleurisy includes care to prevent both bacterial and viral infections that might lead to complications affecting the lungs, chest cavity, guttural pouch, and other parts of the horse's anatomy. Since pleurisy is usually a complication of other diseases, prompt diagnosis and treatment of those diseases should prevent most cases of pleurisy.


Treatment of pleurisy is usually accomplished by the administration of long-term antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian based on culture and sensitivity reports. An antibiotic effective against anaerobic bacteria is often recommended.

If pleural effusion has developed, thoracentesis may be necessary. This is accomplished by inserting a catheter into the pleural space and draining the accumulated liquid, allowing the horse to breathe more comfortably.

Good nutrition and stall rest in a well-ventilated setting until the horse has fully recuperated will allow a return to normal routines when the horse is fully recovered.

Dig Deeper

This section contains articles specially selected by EquiMed staff for visitors wanting more information about this disease or condition. These articles are copyrighted by their respective owners and are available to you courtesy of EquiMed

About the author

EquiMed Staff shares a common goal of helping you improve your horse's health. The staff work together to develop unique web-focused content that answers the most common questions of horse owners. EquiMed staff written content is updated frequently to incorporate the best practices within the equine healthcare industry. Thanks for visiting!

Visit EquiMed's Google+ page.