Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Bleeding from Mouth

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

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

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the horse seems not quite right, or eating less than normal in addition to this sign.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp>101F/38.3C), or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
  • If you are concerned by the size and severity of the wound.
  • If bleeding seems excessive to you.

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

    Bleeding from the mouth usually is an indication of a wound to the inside of the mouth or the tongue. Horses that have a history of either falling forward or suffering other impacts to the face often bite their tongues or cut their lips. Horses that pull back when tied with a bridle, or lose their rider and run loose, stepping on the reins cause the bit to cut into the tongue and bleed.

    Rarely, bleeding from the mouth is a sign of a systemic blood clotting problem. In this case, it is often accompanied by blood loss from other body orifices, or other signs of severe illness.

    WHAT TO DO

    Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to attitude, appetite, heart rate and rectal temperature. Assess the mouth (wear gloves) as well as you can, looking for the source of the bleeding. Check both nostrils and ears for bleeding. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

    WHAT YOUR VET DOES

    Your vet assesses overall health to rule out body wide bleeding problems, then examines the mouth to find the source of the bleeding. Some mouth wounds should be repaired while many will heal well without treatment.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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