Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Ear Drooping or Cocked

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    An ear that is cocked off to one side can be a sign of something causing pain or irritation to the ear canal, the ear itself (pinna) or the skin or tissues around the ear. It can result from the existence of a foreign body such as a hay stem, ear ticks, ear mites, severe aural plaques, sarcoid or an infected wound.


    Assess your horse’s general health with the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and if your horse yields to pressure on the halter, gently examine their ear and try to find the offending cause. Standing in front of the horse (careful to move quickly out of the way), compare the position of the two ears. Is there a difference between the two sides? Share your findings and concerns with your vet.


    Following a general physical exam your vet will carefully assess the ear and surrounding areas. Sedation for a proper ear examination may be necessary. Ear examination may require an otoscope. In some cases, a cause is not found. In that case, symptomatic treatment might be needed for a time before more aggressive and expensive diagnostics are employed.

    What Not To Do

    Do not insert anything into your horse's ear as the eardrum can be damaged. Do not struggle with your horse to look into their ear.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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