Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Swelling on Poll or Neck behind Skull

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 you notice apparent wobbliness or weakness, in addition to this sign.

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

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
  • If the swelling is mild or moderate, and not increasing rapidly.

Swelling in this area is commonly associated with traumatic injury to the area or infection.

Fractures of the neck are common, especially among young horses. Traumatic injuries to the muscles, spine or nuchal ligament (the heavy ligament that attaches to the base of the skull and helps hold up the head), can result in such swelling. Horses that set back while tied can easily fracture their necks.

The swelling of this area has long been associated with a classic but now rare disease, “Poll Evil” which is caused by a Brucellosis bacterial infection.

WHAT TO DO

Examine the area closely and assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Assess the horse’s ability to walk, because spinal cord injuries can result in difficulty walking or wobbliness.

Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Through examination, your vet may determine the nature of the swelling. Ultrasound and x-ray may be very useful, as may needle aspiration or biopsy of the tissue.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending