Information for Horse Owners with Animals in Areas near Wildfires


​UT Extension veterinarian Dr. Lew Strickland cautions horse owners to be mindful of their animals pastured in areas near wildfires.

Photo by P. McDaniels, courtesy UTIA.



The wildfires burning across the region are damaging the state’s air quality and many humans and animals are being exposed to potentially harmful, smoky air.

Horse owners may have some concerns about their horses being exposed to the smoke for an extended period of time. Dr. Lew Strickland, University of Tennessee Extension veterinarian, describes indicators to look for if you suspect your horse is having problems from smoke inhalation.

"The quality of the air and potential for toxins from the burning of toxic weeds or chemicals contained in the smoke will make a difference in the clinical signs your horse may exhibit. If there is only mild exposure for multiple days, your horse most likely will not display any problems whatsoever. But, if your horse has heavy smoke inhalation there may be signs of bronchopneumonia due to inflammation of the airways and the bronchoaveolar sacs (small air sacs in the lungs), said Strickland.

Strickland says if your horse has a heavy cough, nasal discharge, and watery eyes, you should call your veterinarian immediately for an exam. “Toxins in the smoke from toxic weeds or chemicals can easily damage conjunctival and corneal tissue which requires medical attention as quickly as possible,” he warns. “Coughing and nasal discharge is an indicator of damage to the respiratory tract, and delay of therapeutic intervention can result in occlusion of the airways.”

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Strickland by email at or by telephone at 865-974-3538.

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Dr. Strickland, UT Extension Veterinarian, 865-974-3538,