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Equine Health Resource

Drainage from Area below Ear

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    You notice drainage that seems to be coming from the region below the ear, not from the ear itself. Drainage below the ear can result from several causes but is classically associated with a dentigerous cyst. Abscesses, infected puncture wounds, old injuries with infected bone, and foreign bodies can also cause discharge from this location.


    If your horse will allow you to examine the area near the ear, gently examine and clean the area of drainage. Assess the area for swelling, heat and pain. Compare it to the opposite side. Are you sure the drainage is not coming from the ear itself?

    Perform the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to rectal temperature, and looking for abscesses or drainage elsewhere on the body. Take a photo of the area to share with your vet.


    Following a general physical exam, your vet will carefully assess the location of drainage. Ultrasound, radiography and surgical exploration are diagnostics commonly employed to determine whether the drainage is caused by a dentigerous cysts.

    What Not To Do

    Do not insert anything into your horse's ear. Do not struggle with your horse to look into their ear if it is not easy. Horses may be very protective of this area, especially if it is painful.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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